Pros: Jo’s anecdotal observations on her own life are very funny, partly because I’m sure most of the audience could relate to at least one of them.
Cons: There were a couple of slip-ups and forgotten lines, but in the context of the whole show and with Jo’s brilliant personality these were soon forgotten.
Fighting through the crowds of slow moving sightseers around Leicester Square is one of the many joys of London that I try to avoid, but I made an exception tonight and headed to the Leicester Square Theatre to see iScream, a solo show by Jo Burke. Jo’s show begins with a fairly ominous sounding voice over and a figure on stage wearing a boiler suit and gas mask; I had absolutely no idea what to expect. There’s always that element of risk seeing a show but on this occasion it was well worth it.
One way to describe iScream is a night in over a bottle of wine with a best mate. It’s full of laughter, regaling stories of your past and the odd incredibly poignant moment. Once the slightly bizarre opening is over Jo tells us that this is her preview show for her upcoming performances at the Palladium and the Royal Albert Hall – of course. And this is also her “An Audience With….” show as so many of her celebrity friends are in the audience, including Adele and Stephen Fry. Unsuspecting audience members fill in these roles as the show progresses.
Throughout the show Jo describes various scenarios in her life, starting with her exhausting stint at Edinburgh last year which leads on to a fairly unsavory description of the time her bowels decided to empty in a Wilkinson’s. Jo regales us with tales of two proposals (although one was more of a proposal to break up) and online dating anecdotes that had me in tears of laughter. There are few props used, and none used during the main body of this stand-up show. With minimal use of gimmicks Jo has the audience in the palm of her hand.
Although a comedy show, sensitive topics are covered with dignity and just the right element of humor. The objectification of women is discussed based around Jo’s experience of castings for acting roles. In one a business president’s right-hand-man requests that the actress have good legs and the ability to walk in heels – and the part is non speaking. Another asks for tear shaped breasts! Jo makes us laugh all the while raising questions of whether men have to show how good their legs look and what footwear they look best in when going for similar parts.
The show takes on a sad note when Jo tells us about her father’s death, and calls for euthanasia to be legal. Her comparison between life and a party you can’t leave until you’re legless and can’t speak is witty, yet tinged with sadness and regret. We’re encouraged to live life to the full, and Jo’s phrase “Tomorrow’s a word not a guarantee” (she googled it, it’s hers) is incredibly poignant. But then we all sing and dance along to Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’. Living in the moment and just doing it was the surprisingly profound thought I left the show with.
Jo is a terrific force to be reckoned with and I feel like I’ve gained a new friend after tonight’s brilliantly personal, intimate and hilarious show, even the odd slip up only endeared me to Jo even more.
Author: Jo Burke
Producer: Jo Burke
Booking Until: No longer showing.
Box Office: 020 7734 2222
Booking Link: This was a one off performance but you can follow Jo Burke on Twitter for more information.