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Review: Comedy: Adrienne Truscott's Asking for It Soho theatre, London ?????

May 15, 2014

Brian Logan

At last year's Edinburgh Fringe, Adrienne Truscott's show was the definition of an underground hit: a satirical broadside against rape culture, delivered half-naked by a performance artist turned comedy rookie, free, late at night, in a shopfront. Would its subversive charm survive the flit to glamorous Soho theatre? The answer is a from-the-rooftops yes: if anything, this hour of blisteringly sarcastic comedy has improved. It's tighter, more confident, and Truscott has upped the laugh count. Her nudity and breezy confrontationalism are more incongruous in this context, adding to the thrill.

For anyone who has watched with dismay as rape jokes became standard fare in comedy - or just anyone who wants their standup to mean something - this is an exhilarating hour. Truscott's got something major to get off her chest - and I'm not talking about the strip-tease sight gag that punctuates a date-rape routine mid-show. That sound like strong stuff? It is, and Truscott knows it: "anybody need the [rape] whistle?" she'll ask. "Everybody fine?"

But it's not a harangue; it's playful and smart. Throughout, Truscott crosses the wires of the angel and whore stereotypes, hamming up her golly-shucks comedy ingenue status while lacerating the comics who use sexual violence for laughs and the politicians who misrepresent it for votes.

Everywhere, she finds bad faith in the rape conversation, like when she mocks the idea that, if women don't drink, wear makeup or dress provocatively, "[we] should be fine, like in India or Iran".

Truscott is always a step ahead, or to one side, of the crowd. She teases us about Rohypnol and foetuses resulting from rape that have been labelled "a gift from God" - routines that put sexism squarely in its place without ever claiming moral purity for herself. It's so exhilarating to see the ugliness of rape discourse taken on, and bested, not with humourlessness or censoriousness, but with firecracker wit, sophistication and luminous humanity.

Brian Logan

Until May 31. Box office: 020-7478 0100.

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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