Loves is my favourite kind of venue, as they are not afraid to try new things and do stuff which is a little bit out of the ordinary. It is fair to say that the show we saw here on Thursday 22nd February was certainly a break from the normal theatre and music gigs we are used to reviewing here at Weston-super-Mum. Becky Walsh bills her show as personal development done in the style of stand up comedy, and I was certainly intrigued. I studied Art Therapy theory at degree level and have a diploma in counselling. Although my insight into these therapeutic approaches has proved fascinating, I wouldn’t exactly say that it’s a world of giggles and humour. If anything, a lot of the therapists I have encountered have been a little dry and somber, hence why I was put off pursuing this career path any further. We settled down into our seats in a packed Loves, and I’ll admit I was feeling a little nervous as I knew there would be a certain amount of audience participation which is never really my thing, but the atmosphere felt cosy and welcoming so I took a deep breath and put my receptive head on!
One of the very first things Becky said stuck in my head and resonated when I began to type out this review. We were certainly quieter than the American audiences she has performed this show to when she lived over there. It must be daunting to keep going with an audience that are not giving lots of feedback, but she reassured us that ‘in 15 minutes, you will be loving this’. Initially I wasn’t sure; its not belly laugh out loud kind of stand up, and also because it is so unlike anything I have seen before, it did take me a while to warm to it. The show came into its own though when Becky started to engage with the audience and seek volunteers for her intuitive style of working with people. She is warm, down to earth and often very much on the money with the insights she was providing people in order to work through issues that were holding them back from achieving their full potential. I suppose that the issues we all encounter that cause pain and upset our mental balance can be fairly universal so that her ‘intuition’ could be seen in the context of being good at pulling out and clarifying the details of someone’s universal experience. However, her interest in people and her genuine warmth and wish to make someone feel better about themselves was palpable, and she was able to really engage with the audience in a way that put them at ease. She also was able to raise smiles and in some cases the odd big laugh. Initially I wasn’t sure about the format, but then maybe that is because I am used to intense group therapy situations where nobody laughs. In fact, in my counseling diploma year, we were an eclectic group but we bonded and shared many laughs down the pub the academic learning finished. When we tried to bring this humour into the therapeutic environment, we were ALWAYS questioned about what it was trying to cover up, rather than just being allowed to have a good giggle and a bit of banter. In that respect Becky Walsh is an absolute breath of fresh air as she is able to encourage people to reflect and feel better about themselves without all the deathly dull and super serious navel gazing.
This was a fun night out which provoked lots of discussion, debate and conversation between me and my friend afterwards, which is always a good thing. By the way Becky, you were absolutely right in drawing from my friend that she would be great working with groups in a therapeutic environment. What I would say though is that she would be even better as a writer, as she is skilled with words and crafting feelings in the same way as you are skilled in working with people. That is the biggest bonus of this night in that I am able to tell her that through her (hopefully) reading my review. Also, I am always now going to tell people I am ‘balanced’ rather than ‘busy’ when they ask me how I am. Just as soon as I get myself through this super busy week where I am doing 4 different self employment contracts in one week, reviewing Macbeth, seeing a show at the literary festival, volunteering my time this weekend at a community growing project… Oh. Bugger.
If you want to find out more about Becky Walsh, visit her website here
Review by Karen Blake