Driving home from Victorious last night (Hannah Brackenbury’s one-woman Victoria Wood tribute show) I wondered: if Wood could have chosen someone to celebrate and showcase her work, and demonstrate its influence on future comedians, who would it be? I’m pretty sure Hannah Brackenbury would have been on her shortlist.
When you have talent like this there’s no need for glitzy adornments.
An awards finalist at the Musical Comedy Awards (2016) and Pride’s Got Talent Cabaret (2018), this lyrical performer has got what it takes. Brackenbury tells us that she, as Wood before her, writes about ordinary people and ordinary lives, yet from the ordinary she creates the extraordinary. She crafts her life-observations into witty, whimsical ditties, moulding their relatable matter into musical comedy seemingly with ease, clearly be-lying her enormous capability. Like Wood, she’s not an exhibitionist, but a performer who almost, at times, seems uncomfortable in the spotlight. And yet, you get the sense that the words and the music just won’t stop flowing and she has to share them. And share them she does, delivering her numbers with a charming, understated simplicity. When you have talent like this there’s no need for glitzy adornments.
So last night at The Warren, there she stood on stage with her guitar, her keyboard and a mic. That’s all she needed. We sat back and lapped up the offerings of this talented musical comedian and were treated to a fifty-minute mix of Wood’s work, with a sprinkling of Brackenbury’s own. It was all delivered by her strong and pleasant singing voice and all interspersed with a narrative of heartfelt poetry and dialogue. In a world where words are hurled about like slicing spears on social media, Brackenbury’s show was a pleasant and soothing relief. Here, words are neither offensive nor abusive, but suggestive and humorous. Like Wood, this artist treasures, nurtures and celebrates them, and marries them seamlessly with her melodies, generously sharing her ability with her audience. Wood’s old gems were there too, notably Pam and The Ballad of Barry & Freda, and these were perfectly balanced by Brackenbury’s own repertoire: Car Boot Sale and Have You Heard the News Today were my particular favourites – great fun with a hysterical twitter chorus in the latter. Yet, even in Brackenbury’s own work Wood is a constant, at her side throughout, and she speaks touchingly about the influence Wood has had on her life, revealing that, on stage, her idol’s linguistic whisperings are never far from her ear.
This comedian is a class act and it has been noticed. Her first two shows sold out before the Fringe had even started - last night’s was an extra, added due to popular demand. Further dates are sold out too, but if you’re lucky enough to somehow get your hands on a ticket, there are 3 more chances to see this rhyming comic and hear her sharp-witted aphorisms (June 1-3). Brackenbury’s work is pretty and clever and undoubtedly pretty clever. It’s a delight: euphorious, meritorious and - surely Victoria would agree - undeniably bloody-well Victorious!