Sara Pascoe: Lads Lads Lads at Norwich Theatre Royal, 16/09/2018.
On Sunday night Sara Pascoe kicked off her Lads Lads Lads tour at Norwich Theatre Royal with a stripped-down, to the point, straight-up funny delve into family, self-improvement, and even a bit of celeb gossip(!). Dressed in some spectacular patterned trousers, the Dagenham-born comic sauntered out onto the stage with confidence and grace, supported only by a towering poster of herself that loomed behind her throughout the hour. If one thought this was self-aggrandising, Pascoe put this to bed instantly, telling the crowd she didn’t mind if they needed toilet breaks or checked their phones in winning efforts to prove her friendship with the 1000 or so audience members. This created a subtle comfort and ease that was sustained throughout and was not dampened by the two-act structure of the night.
After everyone was comfy, Pascoe declared that this show was a celebration of being single, a positive rendering of single life, which turned out to include multi-facetted stories and observations in her anxiously good-hearted voice. There was some real delight in the way that her stories never followed a particular train of thought. This tact brought a freshness to topics many would assume would be tired out; stories of friends’ wedding (and their hashtags) ended with alpacas without anyone batting an eye. Her wonderfully conversational and somewhat flustered tone made it feel like she was always on the edge of forgetting her point whilst never for a moment doing so, creating the same energy as when an old friend vents to you over coffee. In the next moment, Pascoe was onto her trip to Costa Rica, which became a vehicle for her to cheerfully expose her problems with her family. This felt part of something indicative of Sara Pascoe’s comedic angle as although her bits by her own admission focussed on what’s funny first, this didn’t stop her own values and foibles being skimmed over, making even the most spurious bits feel grounded and real. (Her own interpretation of Roald Dahl’s Lamb To The Slaughter was a stand-out).
After an eighteen-minute break, Pascoe used the trust she’d built up in the first act and decided to test it with anecdotes and ruminations that took on a whole new confessional approach. This began with her and Olly Murs’ experience of a hoax terror attack, again ending up in the last place you’d expect (a waxing salon, which made for my favourite line of the night). This served to only make us gravitate to her more as the light, naturally occurring omissions in the first half gave way to more brutal honesty as if Aunt Sara had a bit too much wine at dinner and was starting to get real with us. Her bits now consisted of more socially conscious observations teamed with intimate and open stories that scandalised the audience in parts but only brought us more on her side by the end. This ‘things I’m not sure I can tell you’ material swam through topics like racism, Fred from First Dates, and vibrators while still making time for a stellar Aisling Bea impression.
Sara Pascoe’s Lads Lads Lads opening night took first show jitters and blended them into an effortless performance. Full of well-written bits couched in her self-effacing and thoughtful character, she tackled topics without scaring off anyone in the theatre, creating an authenticity that has not been falsified by fame. She made no bones about who she was whilst remaining focussed on the funnies, putting her in one of the premium leagues of comedians around today.