Whatever Happened to LaLa Shockette - Icon of the 1980s!

If ever there was an appropriate time to say “I’ll have whatever she’s drinking”, it would be after watching the mini-tornado that is Lowri-Ann Richards perform her Edinburgh show, Whatever Happened to LaLa Shockette.

LaLa is perhaps an exaggerated caricature of Richards, but the basis in truth for much of this story makes it all the more interesting.

The subtitle of the show, Icon of the 1980s, tells you pretty much everything you need to know. Looking back at a career working – and sleeping – with a list of names that reads like a veritable Who’s Who of the New Romantic movement, Richards wraps songs, video and old photos around anecdotes to weave a slickly-delivered portrait of her alter ego, LaLa Shockette. Quite where the line is drawn between real-life performer and the character she’s created is pretty blurred, for much of this stuff is autobiographic. Richards’ did actually co-found the pop group Shock; she has appeared alongside Gary Numan at Wembley and she was a member of the band Tight Fit. LaLa is perhaps an exaggerated caricature of Richards, but the basis in truth for much of this story makes it all the more interesting.

Richards is an engaging performer, not just because the tales she spins are so engrossing, but also because her personality is so magnetic. A siren of cabaret, Richards is so comfortable with her audience you wouldn’t be surprised if she announced at the end of the set, “the mini-bus is outside – now let’s all go to the club” in that rich North Welsh accent she adopts for LaLa.

It’s an evening for an audience of a certain age, it has to be said. Anyone who doesn’t know the relationship between a pencil and a cassette tape would be a bit bemused by the references to Steve Strange and the Blitz Club. But as someone fast approaching 50, I lapped it up with fond memories of some of the fashion crimes I made flouncing up Charing Cross Road with a Walkman the size of a house brick and my hair so awful I’m pretty sure it now features in its own Buzzfeed article. Great days.

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Performances

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The Blurb

LaLa Shockette, (alter-ego of actress, Lowri-Ann Richards), arrives at the door of London's New Romantic Blitz Club, home of the synthesizer, pop and fashion movement of the early 1980s. An icon is born! Using live footage, original stills and songs from the era, we watch her swift ascent to notoriety, her fall from grace and subsequent disastrous career moves. Originally performed in London at the St James Studio and in two residencies at Live at Sanctum, Soho. ‘The new Taboo’ (Steve Strange, Visage).

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