Thursday, January 12, 2012

Biddy O'Loughlin - The Girl Who Thought She Was Irish (Out to Lunch Festival)

Out to Lunch 2012 festival banner

The programme described lunchtime’s performance as “a charmingly dark debut show from Biddy O’Loughlin. It’s the story of Biddy growing up as a pasty skinned, Catholic in the Australian dessert (Alice Springs) convinced she was Irish, before coming to Ireland to experience the craic.

Biddy O'Loughlin at Out To Lunch Festival 2012

Petite, elegant, and with a real look of vulnerability, Biddy opened the show standing beside a bar stool that was propping up her guitar. Within the first ten minutes, she had launched into an unrepeatable tirade of jokes and commentary about her alcoholic mother (“I use the term loosely. Mother I mean.”), suicide, Australia, Aborigines, dingos, Catholics and lesbian wielding knives.

Even as an Australian, she’s hung around Trinity College as an exchange student for long enough to pick up a bit of the blarney. In previous festivals, laughs at lunchtime have sometimes been hard earned.

Interspersed between the laughs, she breaks into poetry and sings.

But the performance keeps coming back to casually making the Belfast audience laugh at subjects that would have been well over the normal line of decency and taste if she hadn't managed to link them all back to herself. And yet, in amongst the material about rape – probably the section of the show that got the biggest sharp intake of breath across the crowded lunchtime Black Box – she correctly contrasts that her ancestors were “free settlers” who saved up and bought their passage to Australia (rather than being convicts), while today, people who arrive by boat are called “illegal immigrants”.

Throughout the fifty minute show, the theme of belonging and acceptance is explored. Biddy’s on stage persona is delightfully shocking, even when her little nervous giggle appears and laughs along with some of her own jokes.

BBC NI ran an interview with Biddy on their website today. It covers all the lovely stuff, but like most of the Edinburgh Fringe reviews, omits to mention the depth of dark material. If you’re not easily offended, Biddy’s worth hearing. Just don’t bring your mother … or your priest.

Finally for anyone who was at the show, you may be intrigued to read an Australian article describing a letter Biddy O’Loughlin sent to the Northern Territory News to defend her mother who’s also a comedian. Maybe not the dragon she was made out to be on stage in Biddy’s routine.

Great stew today at the lunchtime show. The food’s been good at this year’s Out to Lunch Festival! If you go to any of the events, switch off your mobile. The coverage inside the Black Box has improved! And the chirping of ring tones has been obvious at both events I’ve attended this week.


Graeme said...

Is it supposed to be autobiographical..??

Alan in Belfast said...

It's tone and delivery make it seem autobiographical ... I suspect it is only partly true, and the rest is humorous fiction. But the starker jokes are harder to stomach if they're not so personally grounded.