EFR - Reviews of Danielle Ward: Seventeen

Danielle Ward: Seventeen

Thu 4th – Sun 28th August 2016

reviews

Maddy Searle

at 20:40 on 24th Aug 2016

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It feels rather unfair to write a review of this show based on a Wednesday afternoon performance attended by only seven people. This self-confessed anomaly makes it difficult to judge what kind of reception the show would receive in a normally fuller house. However, there is a lot to like about Ward’s frank style and friendly banter. Her show is based around the idea that, as a seventeen year old girl (or boy) most of us are clueless, and Ward offers her advice based on 37 years of experience.

She tackles a range of subjects, from the housing market, to celebrities, to feminism, to her own sexual experience. She is not afraid to get down and dirty and explore the more taboo subjects, and she is also not afraid to build up a rapport with the audience.

She also periodically takes up her electric guitar and serenades the spectators with songs of her own invention, such as “1996”, “My Favourite Non-Sexy Things” and her POSITIVE FINALE (the upper case is necessary). She does not have the most beautiful singing voice, but she has conviction and comic timing. However, some of the more obscure references fall flat, and, while entertaining, the songs are not laugh-out-loud funny.

In this particularly quiet Wednesday gig, she tries to make us all comfortable, but, being the reserved Brits that we are, this is a daunting task. Her material is clearly designed for a more rowdy crowd, and it does not gel with these ladies- and gents-who-lunch. However, some of her jokes hit home, such as her fantastic dishwasher allegory, used to explore her boyfriend’s fear of the vibrator. Also her quips about David Cameron raise more than a giggle.

She also has some very sound advice to offer, concerning pubic hair (just leave it!) and one-night stands (they’re terrible!) and she also says, it is okay to wait and have sex when you are ready. This kind of blunt truthfulness is very endearing and important for topics such as these.

By the finale, however, the audience still has not warmed up, but not for lack of trying. Ward decides to try out her big finishing number, the previously mentioned POSITIVE FINALE. The message is heart-felt, but the over-the-top showmanship (or show-woman-ship) is somewhat lost on our little group. This may not be the tip-top of the Fringe, but on a busier day, it is very probably worth an hour of your time.

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Ryan Bradley

at 00:05 on 26th Aug 2016

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According to Danielle Ward, I did not experience her show as intended. Attending a performance which is populated by six spectators, the audience is constantly informed that the comedian could not deliver it to such a small number, requiring audience participation with teenage girls.

Indeed, as the title might indicate, ‘Seventeen’ concerns the age seventeen, advising the actions of young women in topics physical and emotional. Lacking either teenagers or great numbers, Ward is clearly uncomfortable throughout this peculiar hour of reasonably well-written comedy. I cannot say ‘is’ – by the performer’s own word, this is not the regular show. It makes good sense to address the swollen, monstrous elephant-in-the-room which is an insubstantial number of attendees, but Ward overdoes it at times. At my performance, Ward continually interrupts her own amusing stories and recommendations to state that “this isn’t the show!” and that “in the actual show, I normally do something else here, but …”

After a while, it becomes off-putting and annoying, especially since Ward appears to have some rather good material. Her talent even makes an Anne Frank joke work, drawing comparisons between a 21st century teenager’s possession of an iPad and the young girl’s possession of a pencil. Trust me, it works in context. Setting her intrusions aside, her two pre-prepared songs are the show’s probable highlight, a partial riff on The Sound of Music’s ‘These are a few of my favourite things’ transitioning into a flimsy plagiarism of the Friends theme – a closing piece matched only by an extended analogy between fingering and doing the dishes. Ward’s predilection for sexual humour is justified. This seems to be her strong point, producing a range of anecdotes and observations which are delivered with dryness, energy or a deadpan resignation. She can deliver any of these moods with conviction, but seems marred by circumstance.

Moments like these legitimise ‘Danielle Ward: Seventeen’, but I cannot help feeling that I did not see the titular person at their best. In fairness, Ward does make a good point about the size of an audience. She is evidently a performer who feeds off the energy of a larger crowd, channelling it into a confidence. When I experienced ‘Seventeen’, an enthusiastic dance-song combo is halted halfway through, being accompanied by an admission that “this isn’t working like it normally does”. On this occasion, the comment is unfortunately true, the sparse attendance making such dramatics seem more embarrassing than it would before a sizeable amount of people. Despite all this, Ward’s humour shines through, making ‘Seventeen’ an experience which is far from unpleasant.

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