How funny is Non Violent Communication? Apparently, NVC is a way of talking which involves getting your needs met, as well as the needs of others. When Susan Earl’s marriage broke up she gave it a go and it only led to public crying in the aisles of Waitrose. In her new comedy show Earl turns the story of her collapsing marriage into NVC Tips Gone Wrong by way of gentle, well-observed humour.
it was like being at the pub with a funny friend - and that was both the charm and the problem
A forty-something mum of two primary age children, Earl confides that she was thinking a lot about measuring up to being a perfect woman and mother whilst dealing with her relationship. She tried NVC but demonstrates with this show that it’s not necessarily the best way to deal with a ‘selfish narcissist’ (Earl’s ex) especially if you are a self-confessed ‘people pleaser’.
Working a room of just 7 in the low-energy, post-lunch graveyard slot on a hot sunny day in Hove is not the ideal context in which to air a new show but Earl gamely entertained with parenting anecdotes and wry observations on relationships and womanhood.
Over the course of an hour she introduced two new characters: Julie, a hot Australian Instagram-obsessed fitness expert, and Fran, a Scottish child-centred woo-woo parent who ends her skit by liberally squirting breast milk all over the audience. The three young men in front of me were more shocked than amused.
Earl chats about her unsuitability for the life she lives in a Berkhampstead of Botox and canapés and calls out the capitalist patriarchal pressure on women to be ‘perfect’ as sexual partners and as mothers. She writes and sings short ditties to illustrate her points in the manner of the late Victoria Wood and they certainly raise a smile.
For me, it was like being at the pub with a funny friend - and that was both the charm and the problem. Earl’s manner is engaging and her singing voice doesn’t disappoint, but the raw material of her life needs more alchemical joke treatment before it becomes comedy gold.