Amy Booth-Steel certainly succeeds in being honest, though she fails to be truly compelling.
Her ukulele-fuelled solo performance recollecting the toughest four years of her life is at times touching, moving many audience members to well-up. From being told she had cancer to having panic attacks in Tesco, this narrative fits in well with our culture of increased awareness of mental health issues. However, Booth-Steel fails to progress beyond the usual cliches, with ‘‘do it your way’’ as her closing message.
Strumming whilst singing of the terrible pressures of society, she reminds her audience to be body positive. Of course, being comfortable in your skin is essential to your self-esteem, although preaching to the converted – as I’m convinced all audiences will be – can only take a show so far.
That Booth-Steel is such a likeable character rescues the show from banality. It is truly lovely to see this woman enjoying herself on stage, having to resist breaking out in laughter with the audience at times.
The comedy is hit and miss, or rather up and down, to use one of Booth-Steel’s favourite phrases. A bizarre episode takes place as she sits eating her lunch in silence for a good few minutes – before profoundly confirming it is good. However, some elements are very funny – the ability to laugh at oneself never goes amiss – and on the whole, this is an entertaining fifty minutes.
The set, made up of A-shaped shelves bordered by lights, is excellent and adds another dimension to the performance. The ever-changing LEDs coincide perfectly with the beats of her songs and the punch lines of her gags.
Overall, this show is no more than an admirable woman recounting her struggle against cancer and mental illness. That’s not to say that that is not impressive, although it is unclear whether it necessarily demands a show such as this. If you are searching for a new perspective on some of life’s greatest struggles, #HonestAmy will be unable to provide you with this. If being touched by the charm of an admirable woman is enough, this performance will suffice.
#HonestAmy is playing at The Pleasance Dome (Venue 23)
At 12:00 7-11th, 13-26th
Tickets can be found here
Image: Richard Southgate