Felicity Ward – Edinburgh Festival review

Aussie stand-up Felicity Ward wrangles a lively Saturday night crowd under control with a brilliant display of stand-up

Felicity_Ward1“Jack of all trades, master of none” is the phrase, but when it comes to the comedian’s skillset, Felicity Ward appears to be brilliant at the lot. In her fourth show, The Hedgehog Dilemma, not only is she quite the gagsmith, she can charm, mimic, improvise, act, sing, dance, dominate the room … she’s got the lot, like a comedy Swiss army knife.

This is one of the few shows this year that hasn’t had any sort of dip. It’s strong across the hour and perfectly paced. Ward has the benefit of having performed this at various Australian comedy festivals, so it arrives in Edinburgh perfectly honed.

The “hedgehog dIlemma” is a concept that refers to the choice faced by the prickly garden marauders, and which is a metaphor for intimacy: either sleep snuggled alongside another hedgehog and risk being warm but pricked, or sleep alone and go unharmed but cold. The “Hedgehog Dilemma” as a show charts the highs and lows of Ward’s love life and the knock-on effects onto the rest of her life. The confessional post-break-up show that presses emotional buttons and ends with redemption is the stuff of Edinburgh cliché, and Fringe veterans will recognise the rhythms and probably feel a bit manipulated. But it’s really not as common as you’d think – and when it’s done this well, it hardly matters.

She wrangles a lively, sweaty Saturday night audience under control, and leaves them knowing exactly who she is – having ascertained at the start that most people are here through accident not design.

Stand-out moments include her permanently aroused therapist, having to move back with her mother, and a drunken episode with other comics in Edinburgh. She has the balls to end on a pensive moment rather than a showstopping routine, which is telling in itself. Often a big ending is a crutch to prop up shows that need propping up. By the end of this hour, Ward has nothing to prove.

4.5 stars

Felicity Ward – Hedgehog Dilemma is on at 9pm at the Underbelly
Review written by Paul Fleckney

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