Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy review: Beth Vyse: As Funny As Cancer, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Paul Whitelaw
At the age of 29, comedian Beth Vyse confronted her mortality when diagnosed with breast cancer. Mercifully, she survived.
Most comedians, if they decided to talk about it at all, would turn this anguished episode into a conventional, cathartic story-telling show full of hard-won pathos and wisdom. Vyse, an absurdist by nature, begins her show in the guise of Dolly Parton, throwing ping-pong balls at the audience and stabbing an enormous breast balloon.
Though she sticks to the basic tenets of an autobiographical comedy set, her life story is punctured by ridiculous – or possibly mildly rooted in truth – cameos from Nelson Mandela and Christopher Eccleston. Definitely untrue, it’s fair to assume, is the involvement of Michael Jackson as her supportive boyfriend, a part played, on this particular occasion, by a particularly game audience member.
But her terrifying plight, friends/family support and non-Jacko partner were obviously real, which lends depth to her shaggy dog story.
She’s over-reliant on lazily incongruous juxtaposition – i.e. placing celebrities in unlikely situations – but Vyse is a likeable performer. Her amiably ragged, slapstick-lewd confessional just about straddles the divide between nonsense and sincerity.
Heroes @ The Hive (Venue 313) until 30 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 10 August 2015
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