EFR - Reviews of Half a Can of Worms

Half a Can of Worms

Fri 1st – Mon 25th August 2014

reviews

Henry Holmes

at 09:30 on 3rd Aug 2014

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Family is one of the grand unifying themes of all theatre and stand-up, and Deborah Frances-White is a comedian who takes that beyond whatever one might expect. This show is an autobiographical documentation of an adoptee’s search for her birth family. In equal measure poignant and hilarious, it’s a runaway success that left the audience roaring with laughter and simply wanting to hug the amicable comedian afterwards.

The show powered through all manners of old families, new families and everything in between. This woman’s quest of the modern age is not to figuratively find your true family but to literally find the woman who gave you away after an illicit affair aged 21. She was accompanied by a slideshow in the background showing a selection of images from her Internet exploration that made us feel that we were part of this grand search. This, alongside her natural charisma and Caitlin Moran-like sense of humour, really helps to get the audience hooked.

The performance lasts an hour and a half, which can be risky for a solo performer, and there are times when it is a bit of a surprise that the story is not yet over, but Frances-White’s force of personality drives it forwards, more than making up for any minor issues there might be with the pacing. This success is emblematic of her excellent skills of pure storytelling: as we discover new information we truly experience the same highs and lows of self-realisation, disappointment and bemusement in what is, simply by way of the subject matter, something that most people could never quite relate to, but still develop a connection to, making it an excellent choice of topic.

Overall it was a really strong show from a delightful performer who seems to be going up in the world, with her own Radio 4 show on the horizon that really should lead to a very bright future. The insights into the true nature of family (as cliché as that sounds) were heartfelt and the comedy was very much on point and also indicative of the Australian living in Britain: utterly hilarious, light-hearted and touching.

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Ellie Taylor

at 10:08 on 3rd Aug 2014

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To put it mildly, Deborah Frances-White is bloody funny. Frank about her adoption and her feelings for her family, her approach immediately puts the audience at ease and allows them to laugh at her material freely. After five minutes, Deborah’s openness and charm had the entire audience on her side, rooting for her story to conclude happily. The comic value of her story-telling style was heightened by the fact that her story is actually true, something that Deborah acknowledged from the outset.

Dispersed within the delightful mesh of anecdote and chatter were real moments of feeling that did not seem at all out of place considering the subject matter. By letting us glimpse her real thoughts and feelings the audience were further drawn to Deborah's story. We were given a strong impression that she wanted us to share in her memories: especially through her use of photographs as an accompaniment that gave audience members direct access to what she was telling us. By choosing to trust us with her personal life, Deborah somehow seemed to befriend the entire audience.

Fitting somewhere between stand-up comedy and a monologue, Deborah's show was new and entirely her own. One minute we were laughing, the next listening with rapt attention to find out what happened next, the next driven to ponder some of the very serious issues that she raised.

Half a Can of Worms was a thoroughly entertaining, thoughtful and memorable piece that left the audience eager for more. Whoever goes to see this performance will be impatiently awaiting the next installment of Deborah’s life, both to see what happens and to see how she deals with whatever comes her way. It is remarkable that this curiosity in the audience came not only as a result of her incredible story and story–telling, but also due to the bond she manages to form with the audience who in return care about her future happiness. All of this achieved in just an hour and a half – time that I would advise anyone to set aside to go and see this show.

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