Tap-dancing sexual harasser Jenny Fawcett, the creation of Louise Ford, is an impressive new character who is both dark and preposterous
Fawcett is curtain-twitching obsessive who’s life highlight so far appears to have been winning a talent contest on a cruise ship on 9/11 (she was on holiday with auntie Sandra). Heartbreak, sexual frustration and revenge appear to be her motivating forces, as she tells home-spun stories of a pervert on a train, how she fell in love with a man called Peter Dink, and how that infatuation led eventually to Peter’s death. The longer the show goes on, the darker it gets.
Not that it’s without its silliness – Fawcett takes everyone’s name as they enter the room, and spends a lot of time addressing people directly; and her playing with the audience, often with an impressive dry wit, helps keep things light. Also, her set pieces often have a bizarre element (you should see what she does with an orange), and she likes to express herself in tap dance. It’s both dark and preposterous.
These injections of ridiculousness ensure that Fawcett invokes pity as well as wariness. For all that she seems like a Royston Vasey escapee, who dresses unflatteringly in flappy T-shirt and mustard dress, and who screws up her face and bares her teeth with twisted desire – she is remarkably endearing.
What about the laughs? Well, there are plenty in the first half, then character development comes increasingly to the fore and they dry up somewhat – but the show remains compelling and entertaining. Ford’s chops as an actor mean she is able to create moments of power and poignancy, which leaves little room for comedy in some of the latter stretches.
This is a very impressive debut for Fawcett, who is a remarkably fully formed character. If Ford can work out what to do with her – and there’s lots to suggest the river runs deep – then Fawcett might just be around for a while.
Jenny Fawcett is on at 12.50pm at Pleasance Courtyard
Review written by Paul Fleckney