Lucy Farrett is a character comedian returning to the Fringe with her sophomore show LOIS, about her alter ego action heroine. Her debut show LadyFace was well-received by us in 2017, so caught up with Lucy to get a flavour of her new hour.
Can you tell us about your new show?
My new character comedy show is called LOIS. It’s the ridiculous tale of an action hero, Lois, who is trying to rid the world of a terrible baddie as she travels from her hometown in Pansas, USA, to the not-so-sunny side of Marbella with her side-kick crow Colin. Yes, you read that right – SIDEKICK CROW. She’s fierce, dumb and at times oddly spiritual… The action hero genre gets the character comedy treatment and properly beaten up in the process, pow! Lois is also my imagined alter ego. My mum wanted to call me Lois before I was born, but my Dad said no. So LOIS also turns out to be a comedic exploration of my own identity and what it’s like to live as your fictional version of your ‘perfect’ hero self.
Was Lois based on anyone in particular? What were your inspirations?
Lois isn’t based on me, however she is very much a part of me, which becomes more apparent throughout the show. Much like a few of the characters from my first show, LadyFace, she’s definitely inspired by Old and New Hollywood tropes. Love a classic, me! She’s a bunch of movie stars all wrapped up in a version of me; the dream, I guess! See who you can spot!
The show seems to be ambivalent about indulging in a fantasy life – enjoyable but makes coming back to reality all the harder. Is that the message of the show?
An intriguing observation! I think it’s definitely possible to perceive it in this way with regards to the alter ego aspect of having to get back to reality: your real self. Often action/super hero identities are perceived as the ‘better’ alter ego, elevating their real-life selves – e.g. Peter Parker and Clark Kent are written as awkward, ‘nerdish’ and mild-mannered as opposed to their powerful hero selves as Spider-Man and Superman. They are complicated or insecure as themselves, but confident as their hero alter egos. Going back to reality isn’t as fun or thrilling as what they get up to as an action/super hero. However, LOIS examines the possibility that you can learn something from your alter ego hero, that perhaps it’s possible to retain their confidence in your real life identity and that it’s important to remember that maybe they aren’t a better version of you!
What is it about character comedy that appeals to you?
If you enjoy acting and comedy, I feel character comedy really lets you loose as a performer. It’s silly, it’s fun, it’s spicy! You can use costumes and props, albeit sometimes an unhealthy amount – note to self! Essentially, there is a great range in what you can do – e.g. I love being both observational and surreal, separately or all at once. It’s a genre that doesn’t seem to have limits on how mild or wild you can be. I like that. Maybe there should be limits though? No… never!!
Your previous show Ladyface featured several characters. How does it differ, writing a show one continuous narrative?
It felt like a natural step to try writing a continuous narrative for one main character (although there are a few more folks that pop up in the story, watch out!) after a one-woman character sketch show. You definitely need to strike the right balance with character and narrative working together. I feel like the writing and performance has to ensure not only that the character translates well for your audience, but the story too. I was so pleased after the very first preview when audience members told me that the story actually made sense!
Were there any of the characters from LadyFace you would like to expand into a longer show?
The world probably needs more Audrey Hepburn in it – whether that’s literally or via the version I created in LadyFace – because she’s a remarkable and fascinating character and I love her. Maybe Audrey will be back one day.
What are the best and worst things about the Fringe?
Best things: Lovely/up-for-it audiences, supporting other artists, making Fringe friends, late night City Restaurant chips! Worst things: my tired pins from walking EVERYWHERE, my close friend Mr. Fringe Anxiety, the weight of my backpack – packed for all weathers at all times!
Do you have any Fringe recommendations, particularly any acts you feels deserve more coverage or attention than they would normally receive?
I highly recommend these debut full hour shows:
Ryan Lane Will Be There Now in a Minute is the debut show from gorgeous Welsh clown Ryan Lane.
Len Blanco: Firing Blancs showcases boy band heartthrob and drag king Len Blanco killing it.
Both shows are a lot of fun – seek them out!
Lucy Farrett: LOIS is @Underbelly, Cowgate Thu 1 – Sun 25 Aug 2019