It’s true. People who wear lanyards do think they’re better than everyone else.
Celia Pacquola is right about this and a lot of other things too. But can she predict the future?
Pacquola may be best known to some through her recent TV career (Offspring, Laid). But judging from the sell-out crowd at her new show, Let Me Know How it All Works Out, she enjoys a loyal following for her sharply written style of stand up.
The story explores her neuroses, indecision and desire for certainty in an uncertain world. But who can know what the future holds? Fortune-tellers are the only sensible choice for a modern, intelligent young woman (with, as she points out, excellent VCE results).
While performing overseas, Pacquola encounters a shonky palm reader named Tony who has some devastating news about her future. On her return to Australia, her world begins to disintegrate in a series of minor catastrophes as she tries to grapple with a relationship breakdown, a share-house in Frankston and a brutal Melbourne heatwave without air-conditioning. Was Tony right about his prediction? And how will she find out?
This is a very funny, original and finely honed performance. Pacquola confesses to churning through eleven drafts in writing this show, but the effort was worth it as she weaves an intricate and thoroughly modern tale of thirty-something anxiety. With her manic, neurotic presence, she rips through this rich material with the audience hanging on for the ride.
This is comedy without cliché and she uses the power of surprise to perfection. There are very few predictable routes and the audience are kept guessing right up until the climax, with enjoyable detours about hoarders, hipsters and lookalike porn stars. Her impersonation of the items in her fridge is inspired and her observations of the desperate optimism of life after a relationship break-up are hilarious.
She has a knack for physical comedy too, with her energetic use of the stage (and a few clever props), adding spark to the material. She clearly enjoys her work and delivers some killer punch lines with glee. There is also just enough audience engagement to give the night some freshness, without slowing down the narrative.
If there is one weakness, perhaps the tail end of the show is not as tightly written and feels less satisfying than the earlier parts. But overall, this is uplifting, intelligent comedy by a performer with charisma.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Let Me Know How it All Works Out
By Celia Pacquola
The Swiss Club, 89 Flinders Lane
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
27 March – 20 April