hoo:ha, Camden People's Theatre - Review

hoo:ha, a performance art show that manifests a dissonance between funniness and sexiness with the female comic body to challenge heteronormative and patriarchal strands of humour theory.

But what exactly does that mean?

Hannah Ballou is a seasoned comedian and performance artist. Academically, Ballou is qualified to the hilt to talk about and deconstruct the semantics of the feminine within the discourse of humour, and has lectured at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and other revered institutions. But for all of her 'qualifications' and experience, Ballou has, to use a Kipling idiom, "the common touch" – knowledgeable and universally relatable.

At hoo:ha, her last show at the  Camden People's Theatre's Calm Down Dear Festival, Ballou interwove many of the themes she regularly touches on when performing stand-up or cabaret. Everything from her banjo to participatory games was used to aid in her physical performance – including her husband who was also filming the show! Her sock puppet segment was one of my favourite parts of the evening when 'it' challenged her who was a better feminist(!) and sang about it – just one of many examples where humour was used to get a serious point across. Incidently, for a show that banded about the F(eminism) word throughout the evening, the audience I would say was evenly split in numbers between women and men. Inclusivity at its best.

However, the 'person' who has always been part of her act in some capacity is her pug dog Nigel. Asides from using 'him' to create several points about animalséance and why he's only funny in that moment in time, Ballou shared some personal moments with regards to her deceased mother (whose ashes she brought along on stage) being teased at school and about trying for a baby. While Nigel and Ballou's mother's ashes provided the jolt of the evening, the audience was privileged to be the first to share her 'good news'.

All in all, a very enjoyable, entertaining evening that was never short of ideas and engaging throughout.

hoo:ha ran at Camden People's Theatre on 2nd October 2015.

@hannahfballou | www.hannahballou.com


Author's review: