Lucy McCormick truly puts the ‘threat’ into Triple Threat. Her new show is an hour of genre-defying, head-spinning, in-yer-face theatre that combines vocals worthy of any stadium tour, moves ripped right from the ‘Single Ladies’ playbook and extended metatheatrical reflection on what it means to be a performer today.
“McCormick holds the audience in the palm of her hand”
Post Popular focuses on McCormick’s hilariously unfeasible and admirable attempt to channel and explore the identities of history’s most famous and iconic women, such as Eve, Boudica and Joan of Arc, in one hour. However, these vignettes which range from apple-smashing to the sound of Ariana Grande’s ‘Dangerous Woman’ to racing through the middle of the audience to the deafening thrash of Metallica, are merely a vehicle for both McCormick’s prodigious array of talents and her deep reflections upon modern performance.
It would be a disservice to the many treats which lie at the very depths of McCormick’s show and the surprises which she has in store to reveal them all in this review. However, one noteworthy moment which is comparatively simple in its execution (in relation to the acrobatic singing, dancing and clowning) is the moment when she reads a joke from the back of a Penguin biscuit wrapper and the punchline devolves into an extended monologue about her personal struggles with mental health and the perils of being a performer. McCormick holds the audience in the palm of her hand and knows how to oscillate between moments of anarchy and astonishing quiet.
Credit must also go to McCormick’s two (quite literal) back up dancers, Samir Kennedy and Rhys Hollis, who match her in movement and deliver some of the show’s funniest deadpan moments. Their appearance as a pantomime horse, particularly, left the audience in stitches. Despite the ferocity of McCormick’s performance, she also had the ability to make the audience feel welcome amidst the discomfort of being pummelled with soil and apples in the front row as the Garden of Eden erupted. One moment which springs to mind is a singalong during her mournful and touching rendition of Jermaine Stewart’s 80s banger ‘We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off’.
McCormick’s show may be named Post Popular but I was reminded throughout the show of the term ‘metamodernism’, which has recently gained intellectual currency as an alternative to ‘post-postmodernism’. It describes art which swings from irony to sincerity, never fully committing to either, and thus outright rejects the obsolete irony of much twentieth-century satire such as The Simpsons or South Park. McCormick is a performer who fully inhabits this metamodern state, viciously and thrillingly pushing against the conventions of a stand-up show, whilst simultaneously attempting to capture the aesthetic beauty of a performer excelling across so many platforms.
Post Popular is pick of the Fringe thus far and it is absolutely essential and unmissable.
Lucy McCormick: Post Popular is running is running at Pleasance Courtyard – Two at 20:00 until Sunday 25th August.