From the moment she appears on stage and welcomes the audience with shy warmth and a lilting Irish brogue, Alison Spittle immediately charms and disarms. There are some people who just give off the air of having a big heart and Spittle is one of them, while her conversational, confessional tone makes this stand-up show feel more like a catch-up with an old friend than 60 minutes in one of the sweatiest venues at the Gilded Balloon.
During her set, Spittle covers all manner of autobiographical topics, most of them self-deprecating and some a little dark. There’s her first “shift” (kiss, for the non-Irish amongst us), her first dabble with the occult through Ouija boards and The Craft, her first appearance on Irish TV and her first brush with one of her celebrity heroes. There’s also a brief rundown of some of the more colourful moments she has shared with her therapist, or psychoanalyst, or whatever they’re called – both the “silent” ones and the “talky backy” ones. Despite the potential for getting bogged down in these particularly heavy episodes, Spittle’s sweet persona keep things light and breezy throughout.
Her shining a light on her own struggles with mental health are clearly cathartic and may well serve a valuable purpose for society at large in removing some of the stigma surrounding them. One small criticism would be that this doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for genuine laughs or conventional jokes, and though her storytelling is skewed with a humorous slant, the show’s raggedy structure and scattergun skits mean that the momentum levels off and dips after the initial 20 minutes. Still, it’s an enjoyable and thoroughly relatable ramble through her backstory which entertains without amazing.