Amy Howerska has become a regular fixture for us at the Fringe and, this time, we are determined to slot her in to our schedule earlier than before. She’s in her usual confident form as she strides out onto the tiny stage at The Counting House and begins to chat up members of the audience – she can do more with a facial expression than most other comics can manage with their entire bodies, milking us for laughs with evident ease. Then she announces she’d better get on with the actual show…
Goddess takes a scattergun approach to a variety of topics and it quickly becomes apparent that this is less thematically assured than last year’s show, Smashcat. She covers some of the terrible jobs she’s had to endure before becoming a full- time comic; discusses her new boyfriend (who is Irish) and his weird family; outlines her hatred of ‘mansplaining’ and her thoughts on the possibilities of motherhood… she segues back and forth through the topics and, if they seem unconnected, it’s because they actually are. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of laughs to be had along the way, but there’s also the suspicion that she’s coasting a little here and maybe needs to put together a more focused hour, one that has a more cohesive theme. I have no doubt whatsoever that’s she’s entirely capable of doing that.
She ends with the usual plea to put some cash in a bucket (this is on the ‘free’ Fringe but, as she points out, it’s still costing her around two grand to be here, so please give generously), and then an assistant brings out an adorable puppy for her to hold (emotional blackmail?) and the show is over. Howerska is a gifted comic and, even if this isn’t her best show, it’s nonetheless a glorious way to spend an hour at the Fringe. Go and see it.
It’s been another amazing August for us at Bouquets & Brickbats. We’re exhausted after a month of non-stop theatre and comedy! We have seen some absolutely fantastic stuff, covering a huge range of ideas. Here’s our pick of the best we’ve seen at this year’s Fringe:
Neontopia / Wales Millennium Centre – A Good Clean Heart by Alun Saunders
Aurora Nova – The Blind Date Project by Bojana Novakovic
Rainbow Class by Vivienne Acheampong
Gaggle Babble / National Theatre Wales – Wonderman by Daf James
Something for the Weekend – Royal Vauxhall by Desmond O’Connor
NJC Productions – The Way the City Ate the Stars by Will Greenway
George Dillon – Stunning the Punters (& Other Stories) by Berkoff, Sproat and Dostoevsky
Lorenzo Novani – Cracked Tiles by Lorenzo Novani
Impi Theatre Company – The South Afreakins by Robyn Paterson
Amy Howerska is on top form. It’s the final night of the Fringe, but she’s as lively and sparky as ever, and this is an excellent set. There’s less of a theme than last year’s Sasspot; but that doesn’t seem to matter. This year’s show is loosely based around the idea of growing up, of realising that behaviours that mark us out as funny and appealing when we’re young start to seem tragic as we get older.
She’s dressed as Freddie Mercury (from the I Want To Break Free video), complete with greasepaint moustache, and she totally manages to rock the look.
There’s a sense of scattershot about the show as Howerska hops nimbly from one idea to the next, from David Bowie’s Labyrinth, to her sister’s similarity to Nessa from Gavin and Stacey, but it all flows effortlessly and it’s laugh-out-loud funny from beginning to end. Haverska has oodles of charisma and a self-confidence that’s really very appealing indeed.
As we make our way outside, fireworks are lighting up the sky to mark the end of the Fringe, but, we decide, Amy’s show was a better place to be.
Amy Howerska opens the gig with a warning: it’s the end of the festival and everyone’s gone a little bit stir-crazy. She’s probably right: a whole month of gigging in this hot-house of creativity and competition is bound to take its toll. But she, unlike a lot of others, at least looks like she’s maintained a healthy balance – all glowing skin and shiny eyes. She doesn’t look tired or defeated or in dire need of some clean air. She’s ebullient and fresh, and the whole thing starts off well.
The show centres on Howerska’s unusual background. She boasts a familial line of ex-military (SAS?) men, and grew up in a sky-diving drop-zone run by her father when he left the services. It’s wonderfully unusual; she doesn’t have to work too hard to pique our interest. There are tales of near-death in the Brecon Beacons, and a large cast of aunties and other relatives are vividly brought to life. She’s sparky and likeable, and the audience is on her side.
It’s a shame, then, that she seems to lose confidence part way through the set. There are only twenty or so people in the audience, and so of course our laughter is more muted than it would be in a larger crowd. Maybe we don’t respond as she expects at a key moment? It’s hard to tell. But she loses focus, leaves the stage to switch on a fan, and then starts commenting that we’re not laughing at particular lines. She seems to panic a little, derailing her momentum.
Luckily, this doesn’t last too long, and Howerska soon regains her stride, explaining with gusto why funerals are better than weddings, and why hen parties are hell on earth. She’s funny, smart and different – and definitely one to watch.