Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
Most people know this part of a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, and for comedians it’s a sentiment that’s taken to heart. In Rachel Causer’s Lippy (which is directed by Georgie Staight), she traces her life-long admiration for female comics – for their unabashed way of looking at the world and not conforming to the expectations of ‘polite women’.
At the ‘ripe old age’ of 25, she’s starting to think about getting older (she was given anti-aging cream by her parents for Christmas!) which prompts her to look at the past 10 years of her life and how she’s changed.
As Causer unpacks several boxes that represent different stages of her life that she’s ‘decompartmentalised’, a pattern emerges that features throughout the show. Projected on the back wall, we see interesting, inventive words that encapsulate what her life was like during a given year. Also projected are her most commonly spoken phrases during the same periods, plus the de rigueur embarrasing photos from yesteryear.
While Lippy is very much about Causer’s own experiences, they are universal to some degree – the rites of passage of one’s teens/young adulthood. It is, howewer, as a young woman that she finds there is much to say and that’s she grateful comediennes exist that tell it ‘like it is’.
The comediennes that mean a lot to her don’t necessarily tell jokes, but rather are purveyors of truth – speaking out about what it really means to live as a woman versus what’s expected of ‘the fairer sex’. The range of comics referenced are varied and illustrious, such as Andi Osho, Sara Pascoe, Sarah Milican, Amy Schumer, Joan Rivers and Victoria Wood.
For chunks of the show, Causer lip-syncs with their routines, which as you would expect are hilarious and on-point. However, there is more than enough of Causer’s own material and how it relates her heroines, to justify Lippy as an original show in its own right. From the beginning she makes a distinction between her public self and what she really thinks. As for the recording of herself speaking which she responds to throughout the rest of the show, it is a constant reminder of the dissonance between women’s public ‘silence’ or what the audience is listening to.
© Michael Davis 2018
Lippy ran at The Arches at St Mary’s Church as part of the Wandsworth Arts Fringe Festival.