Rose-Tinted is a show which attempts to look on the bright side of life, despite Barnes describing herself as so pessimistic as to not only be a glass half-empty, but like a glass smashed and left jagged upon a table.
When discussing the extreme boredom that characterised Sunday afternoons in her childhood, and her family’s penchant for ‘popping in’ uninvited to friend’s homes, Barnes quips, ‘in the 1980s the only people who phoned ahead were the IRA’. It’s a joke that exemplifies her comedic blend of personal anecdote and political commentary.
While Brexit and Trump certainly seem to be especially mentioned by comedians (and performers in general) in this year’s fringe, fewer actually comment upon its state and impact. Yet Rose-Tinted is unafraid to bring the topical to the stage, with the hypothetical awarding of ‘most punchable face’ to Jacob Reese-Mogg receiving large cheers.
At times Rose-Tinted feels like an hour long round of ‘Wheel of News’ from Mock the Week, but the blend of this with her personal stories and likability actually make it a refreshing combination.
Barnes discusses her experiences with mental illness, from receiving CBT in a psychiatric hospital to ‘music therapy’, which left her with a greater fear of singing in public than she started with. The highlight of this section, though, is her account of one especially funny key worker, Barbara, whose profound life advice included reminding her that ‘the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time’. It’s absurd yet sensical – a little like Barnes’ own comedy.
While the ‘Radio 4’ audience were initially slow to warm up in their applause – blame classic middle-class reticence – the audience soon was cheering and clapping at her defiant hilariousness. Barnes rejects being criticised for being ‘unladylike’, because being a ‘lady’ has never been something she’s aspired to. Rather, teach girls to be brave, resilient and strong, she cries.
Angela Barnes: Rose-Tinted is playing 11-12, 14-26 August, at 7.15pm at Pleasance Courtyard (Beside)
For tickets and more information, click here