Queens of Comedy
By Ben Bunce
With the arrival of brand new comedies on the theatre scene we thought it was time to take a look at the top 3 female comedy icons to watch out for this autumn. Holidays are mostly over, the cold weather is settling in and with a slight post summer blues in the air knowing what's happening in the world of comedy could put an end to all this mid autumn misery...
First on the List...the name on everybody's lips:
Tamsin Greig in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
ATG Magazine took the opportunity to catch up with the star of the upcoming stage production; Tamsin Greig in an interview in which reveals her excitement for this new challenge.
'I tried to say no,' she says of her musical theatre debut in the fiery, funny stage adaptation of Pedro Almódvar's Oscar-winning film. 'To start in a completely new arena doing something utterly unknown to me fills me with a thrilling terror which makes it hard to rush at things.'
In the show, Greig will play Pepa Marcos, a successful actress whose life begins to unravel when she is unceremoniously dumped by her lover, Ivan ('Eebaan it sounds so much more alluring in Spanish!'). Other characters involve another wife in the picture, of course, not to mention Pepa's best friend, a model who is dating a terrorist.
Back in the 80s, Pepa was played in film by the fabulous Carmen Maura, who also appeared in Almodóvar's 2006 hit Volver, a film Greig very much admired: 'Volver stuck with me in the way that a lot of films don't - it got under my skin. He asks the audience to respond with their guts. And he's so interested in women. She reaches for the right words: 'I love the way that he investigates the guts of gutsy women!'
The part of Pepa is a breakout role for Greig and in all her years on stage, TV and film she's never done anything like it. Her excitement is shared by the creative team: 'I knew she was an experienced and popular actor in England,' says Director Bart Sher, 'but she is perhaps the single most talented actor I have ever worked with. She can turn from inexplicable glee and humour to heartbreaking pathos in a split second - and her skill and dexterity are unmatched. We have found a great actress for a great role. She is unquestionably an Almodóvar heroine and up to the heights of humour and heart demanded by his work'
Jane Horrocks in East is East
With such a brilliant Lancashire accent, it's no wonder Jane Horrocks was offered the part of Ella in this production of East is East. Having played iconic parts such as LV in the award winning Little Voice or Bubble in the hit TV series Ab Fab, Jane Horrocks is back once again to show off her acting talents in this modern comedy classic. The production which also stars Ayub Khan Din as George, tells the story of a Pakistani chip-shop owner who is determined to give his children a strict Muslim upbringing. Caught in the middle of her husband's beliefs and her children's free will, Ella is faced with rising household tensions.
Here are some quotes from previous East is East productions:
'A hugely entertaining, highly involving, emotionally tender, politically inflamed family drama'
Simon Reade, Time Out, November 1996
'What is remarkable about this play is its mixture of dramatic sympathy and delightful comedy. One of the best pieces of modern Asian drama I've ever seen'
Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph, November 1996
'Khan Din has a gift both for sympathetic characterisation and for sharp abrasive dialogue'
Benedict Nightingale, November 1996
Dawn French in 30 Million Minutes
Add a little Vicar of Dibley, a touch of French and Saunders, a mix of Ab Fab and a handful of chocolate bars and you get Dawn French! The UK's queen of comedy eases us into autumn with her one-woman show; 30 Million Minutes (currently touring the UK).
The chocolate loving, novel writing comedienne tells her story on stage in a show that talks us through her life experiences, her ups and downs, explaining how she attempts to be a fully functional human being in her daily life. Written by Dawn French herself this solo tour will pretty much guarantee you a good old laugh. Big in size and big in humour by all accounts!
To give you an idea, here are some recent reviews:
'A life-affirming phenomenon'
The Telegraph 2014
'30 Million Minutes is a production that celebrates women without ever excluding the men in the audience. In fact - they might even learn a thing or two, I know I did!'
'Dawn French's debut solo show delivers a sharp, gutsy high-energy guide to life'
The Evening Standard 2014