★★★☆☆ Soho theatre, London Until Saturday
Lauren Pattison’s first show was about a breakup. Her second – she tells us – celebrates the happiness she’s found since. In fact, the two sets are similar: both are sprightly narratives of triumph over adversity, liberally sprinkled with self-motivational slogans. What’s good about that is Pattison’s emotional intimacy – we experience every ebb and flow of the 24-yearold’s confidence, her love life, her efforts to find her feet away from her native Newcastle. The downside is that a higher premium is placed on this chronicle of her psychological wellbeing than on jokes or narrative power.
Pattison often opts to end her routines with a homily about their personal-development significance. (“You can’t run away from your problems”; “People can’t help you if you don’t tell them what’s wrong.”) Such cliches clog up the comedy.
The show traces Pattison’s efforts to be young, free and single. That’s easier said than done when you’re “fragile” and struggle, as Pattison does, with your mental health. The stories she tells of these journeys emotional and geographical (about a trip to Adelaide zoo; about her school bully showing up at one of her gigs) aren’t particularly remarkable, but Pattison animates them with underdog mettle and a perky sense of her own ridiculousness.
She deploys working-class righteousness, too. Several stories are fuelled by ambivalence about her well-heeled London set. One routine contrasts boarding school with a lurid experience from her teenage years on Tyneside. But there’s no space for spontaneity. Pattison just motors on with her everyday tales of early-20s angst, delivered with pep, pluck and no little warmth.
Pep and pluck … Lauren Pattison