EdFringe Review: Femme Natale Theatre

2023FEMMENA_ACK__Femme_Natale_Theatre - #EdFringe 2023 - Review at TheQR.co.uk

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

New Zealand troupe Femme Natale Theatre have landed in a dank Edinburgh function room, and you should definitely go witness their EdFringe debut! Simply put, this is well-conceived, observationally sharp, utterly bonkers sketch comedy based exclusively on the world of parenting.

In each sketch, the basic idea is simple: what if a wife could click her fingers and have her husband experience pregnancy? What if breasts talked to one another? What if giant babies went to restaurants? What if you created a burlesque ASMR experience based entirely on not having children to take care of?

The genius is in the execution by April Phillips, Jeremy Nelson,Tracey Savage, and Fingal Pollock the show’s creator and director. There’s nothing messy, or madcap about these performances. Underneath the absurdity they are delivering each character with complete sincerity. Whether it’s a talking vulva dinner party, or rival yoga mums vying to score the top-dog, most-promising spawn medal, the delivery is sharp, the timing on point. The insanity of the setups is only part of the build-up, not the punchline.

Then there’s guest performer Sonja Doubleday a walking sanitary towel who acts as stagehand between sketches. Her body language, and expression never fail to raise a chuckle. When she runs into a rival device played by Pollock, the results are splendid. So bravo indeed to all the talents on stage, amongst whom a weakest link isn’t to be found.

Femme Natale Theatre is offering work reminiscent of Paul Merton in the early 90’s, except whilst he was obsessed with dolphin-headed men, they take parenting for their muse. There’s a similar mix of the dead-pan, off-the-wall, and outright silly. Plus, I’m not a parent, and it still tickled my funny bone consistently. Indeed once you’ve locked into their comedic wavelength, the laughs just seem to keep coming.

It’s also worth pointing out that though advertised as an ‘adults only’ comedy night, the bawdiness never strays into the wantonly salacious. This is adult humour, but good humour: equines can attend without any fear. So welcome to Edinburgh, Femme Natale Theatre, and your archly-comic, cheerful, honest, parenting catharthis.