Jessica Fostekew: Hench

Hench is an engaging exploration of female strength in its many forms. We are treated to this hour of fiesty, feminist feel-good funny, as Jessica Fostekew imparts her discoveries since entering the world of fitness. Unsolicited male compliments and wanking over squat thrust burpees introduce us to this fast paced analysis of the various ways women encounter strength, and raises a curiosity as to how societal attitudes have changed.

An hour of fiesty, feminist feel-good funny

Alongside this social commentary on female empowerment, Fostekew is effortlessly amusing as she entertains us with stories of nordic walking groups, inner strength, the willpower to resist a biscuit and hypno birthing. She holds the audience firmly as she critiques the weight loss industry with its "moral value of a mars bar", and forays into the debate on gendered sports and Caster Semenya’s experiences. Fostekew regales us with tales of life raising a violent son, and challenges how society perceives strength – for example we know the term "weed" to imply weakness, however in nature weeds are the strongest, most powerful force which can bring down the whole structure of a building.

Fostekew isn’t breaking any barriers with her material – feminism, empowerment and motherhood are standard topics on the comedy scene. However she does offer a finesse and unique observation to these which lift them out of mundanity. Her skit on her "geezer Darth Vader" and the forced masculinity imposed by her father was skilfully delivered, and her quip on nipples versus testacles had the audience enthralled.

This is an hour of polished, observational humour which will render you bemused, breathless and educated. Fostekew has cleverly designed her show to hit all the topical norms, with a charm that switches between self-deprecating and self fulfilled. The final scene which sees her struggle to put on a coat is a call back to an earlier quip, though I just found it a bit annoying – I’d rather have seen her finish by lifting some weights!

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The Blurb

Absolute powershed and regular host of The Guilty Feminist, Jessica Fostekew explores her big strong strength. Have you ever watched a feminist try and take ‘hench’ as a compliment? It’s like watching a snake eat but funny. In preview, Hench was nominated for Best Show at the Leicester Comedy Festival. You’ve seen Jess in BBC sitcoms Motherland and Cuckoo and BAFTA Award-winning drama Three Girls. She's also in forthcoming feature films: Gavin Hood’s Official Secrets and Michael Winterbottom’s Greed. She writes for 8 out of 10 Cats. 'Consistently hilarious' (Fest). 'Smarts on her sleeve, great' (Guardian).

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