If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. That’s Laura Curnick mantra anyway. Stand-up comic, her career is taking off until she melts down on stage, confronted by the fact that she can’t have kids. Caroline Byrne’s Blocked charts Curnick’s journey through three separate stand-up gigs, from mocking mothers, pregnancy and children to lamenting that she can’t experience any of them herself.
Observations about love open the first set – funny, crude and in favour of the singleton. Curnick herself is dating her tour manager; anyone could tell her not to shit where she eats. #nofilter; Instagram bullshit; taking a dump on the crumpets. Curnick’s delivery is snappy and swift – strike and retreat. She has a few nervous ticks that break up the flow of dialogue and is clearly at times trying to remember what the next gag is. But there’s an air of Amy Schumer here – a no-nonsense strong comedian that isn’t afraid to launch an offensive.
The tide turns on her big second performance – the make or break show that can catapult her up to the bigtime or down to the working men’s clubs. If only her uterus hadn’t deserted her – a pissed off show sends her spiralling down. This part of the script has moments of great intrigue, the audience wondering where the story is going, only to have it career off track at the last possible moment. The subtext in the dialogue is well-judged, but again Curnick feels too focussed on remembering the lines to give a layered performance. Subtle shifts mark out the direction of set from belly laughter to nervous laughter.
In the end, the arse end of Oldham and a Benetton jumper beckon. Blocked shows Curnick’s grief as an amputation, one that won’t simply let her die; hope is a relentless vampire that isn’t never sated. She crumbles and so do her audience – even as the lights turn off on her, she finishes her set, a determined yet defeated woman. This end is poignant, purposeful and powerful from all parties present.
Director: Scott Le Crass
Producer: Pure Fluke Theatre
Writer: Caroline Byrne
Cast: Laura Curnick
Blocked played Sweet Dukebox as part of Brighton Fringe Festival 2017. For more information, please visit the website.