Gráinne Maguire spends a lot of time on her precocity as a youngster. It appears she hasn’t in any way left it behind. She paces the stage, her next gesticulation spring-loaded and ready to fly. There’s barely a moment where she’s simply at rest, and that’s central to her stance in the show. As an immigrant in London, she feels acute dislocation, particularly in these uncertain political times. She uses her exotic Gaelic name (a Fada is the accent over the ‘a’ in her Christian name) as the central metaphor for this failure to fit in.
Within this framework she discusses her stand-up routines, performed from the age of four, as a means to curry some of her granny’s favour from other, more beloved cousins. She talks about her feminism, her fondness for irritating drama-queen theatrics, and her suspicion of shy people. She sticks up for those that try too hard; she finds a particular empathetic shoulder for Geri Halliwell.
Somehow, she also manages to tie in this hectoring, foot-stamping Violet Bott persona with sharp, incisive, and smartly satirical political analysis. The ever-looming nebulous spectre of Brexit is an obvious topic for one of potentially uncertain residence status. David Cameron gets dubbed a “messy bitch,” but she gets to feel slightly smug about her Irish passport.
She’s good at picking up on the very obvious failings of those that are making the big decisions on our behalf as she’s so self-aware of her own. It appears she deliberately amplifies these traits identified in her youth for comic effect; as a means to be heard, and as a strident shield to balance out the skittish energy that radiates from her on stage. She performs this helix of the personal and political very well, often approaching a wider picture from an oblique angle; a sudden branch out from an anecdote into a wider point.
Over the course of an hour, Maguire shows herself to have a really deft comedy brain, capable of maintaining an illusion of manic conversation while dealing with big themes in a succinct, clear-eyed way. A very strong show indeed. And if you take nothing else away from it, you’ll certainly know how to pronounce Gráinne.