Show + tell: Paul Flynn’s top telly

Grazia (UK) - - Contents - with PAUL FLYNN

Ju­lia Davis brings her unique sense of men­ac­ing black hu­mour to this tale of dis­ap­point­ment in love in the sub­urbs

THE BRIT­TLE, BRIL­LIANT, ex­treme comic noir of Ju­lia Davis is a genre in it­self. From Nighty Night, through Hun­derby,

Camp­ing and now Sal­ly4ever, she has put a mer­ci­less spear through the lies of Mid­dle Eng­land. She looks at bore­dom and rou­tine, then rat­tles its corpse un­til the bones shake. That Ju­lia Davis was ever in a Richard Cur­tis film with Mar­tine Mccutcheon and Hugh Grant is still the kind of pub quiz an­swer to send a chill down the spine. She is not a co­me­dian so much as a ni­hilis­tic revo­lu­tion wreak­ing havoc on the hypocrisies hap­pen­ing be­hind net cur­tains. Let’s call her genre Sub­ur­ban Hor­ror­core.

The set-up of Sal­ly4ever is as rou­tinely dystopian as ever. Sally (Cather­ine Shep­herd) is a plain Jane, dor­mouse-type who lives with her boyfriend David (a ter­ri­fy­ing Alex Mac­queen), a bald man with wire-framed spec­ta­cles who sings Ge­orge Michael songs in an eerily perky bar­ber shop quar­tet. He is Vic­to­ria Wood’s A Fairly Or­di­nary Man on stilts, mas­tur­bat­ing in a zone 7 bath­room. Sally works in a drab mar­ket­ing of­fice be­sides a woman in a wheel­chair with brit­tle bone dis­ease and two sleazy, leer­ing id­iots, one of whom is played by Davis’s part­ner, The Mighty Boosh’s Ju­lian Bar­ratt, to add a fur­ther layer of should-ire­ally-be-laugh­ing me­nace.

Sally’s mother is ha­rangu­ing her to marry a man she is clearly re­volted by. David wants her to walk down the aisle in his mother’s stained wed­ding dress. When Sally spots a tin-pot per­for­mance artiste – a cheap Home Coun­ties Lady Gaga and frag­ile bag of nerves – called Emma (Davis), on an outer Lon­don tube car­riage, she be­gins an epic les­bian voy­age of ad­ven­ture. Her dor­mant li­bido is at last aroused, sen­sa­tion­ally and cli­mac­ti­cally, with ab­so­lute dis­re­gard for viewer prud­ish­ness. No comic un­der­stands the gory bi­ol­ogy of mor­bidly des­per­ate sex­u­al­ity like Davis. She doesn’t do plots – she throws big ideas about un­hap­pi­ness at the wall, then lets men­ac­ing de­tails claus­tro­pho­bi­cally build. Do­mes­tic dis­as­ter is only ever a bad pop song, wrong hair­cut and winceyette nightie away. Where Davis’s kindlier fore­bears Mike Leigh, Vic­to­ria Wood and Caro­line Ah­erne dealt in the com­edy of mun­dane lives, Davis is in­ter­ested in the com­edy of the re­pul­sive. She is now its queen. Be­gins Thurs­day, 10pm, Sky At­lantic

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