Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy review: Felicity Ward: What If There Is No toilet?, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Claire Smith.
Lots of comedians, let’s face it, have voices in their heads. But I doubt there has ever been a funnier one than Beryl – the anxiety-making old lady who lives in Felicity Ward’s head.
Beryl sings terrible disco lullabies to keep Felicity awake and creeps around her when she is onstage whispering awful things to her. It is Beryl, above all, who reminds Felicity constantly that she could be in trouble if she can’t make it to the toilet on time.
The UK-based Australian comic has always made good use of her nervy, quirky energy on stage. But this year she has decided to dig deeper and tell us all the story of how she found out she was really, properly medically nuts.
Ward has galloping irritable bowel syndrome, severe anxiety and bouts of depression – which all came to a head at the Fringe five years ago.
Since then she has moved to the UK, picked up a supportive and incredibly patient man and finally admitted that she has some problems she can’t solve on her own.
While a lot of creative people fear analysing their quirks, Ward’s journey into her own psyche has not dulled any of her native eccentricity.
Whether she is arguing with Beryl, throwing her clothes around the room at her boyfriend or doing an impression of a piece of toilet paper that won’t flush, Ward is an inspired clown. There is no schmaltz or sentimentality in her tale – but she doesn’t shy away from digging deep and telling us the truth.
Of course, there is a touch of artifice. The psychoanalyst who finally got through to her had a terribly boring accent – so Ward gives her the voice of Janet Street-Porter. It sounds nothing like Janet Street-Porter – but it is very funny.
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) until 31 August / listings
[Main image: Jon Savage]
Published in The Scotsman on 14 August 2015
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