Ward’s comedic traipse through her anxiety issues, and most specifically, her irritable bowel syndrome, is a neatly-crafted, well-measured piece that stays just the right side of self-pity and wilful embarrassment. It’s confessional, but not awkwardly or self-indulgently so, with stopping off points to consider kids’ parties, the horror of ferris wheels and the netherworld of adult contemporary radio – mini toilet breaks if you like, on a journey that could easily have been uncomfortable.
With her twitchy stage presence, it’s no surprise to learn that Ward is highly strung, although there’s no obvious lack of confidence as a performer. She paces about the stage, and pulls at her hair until, over the course of the show, it’s teased into Sideshow Bob bigness. The natural thing to wonder as she’s revealing gig-based anxiety is: how much of that is going on now? If it is, it doesn’t reveal itself. (And not just in an absence of fecal matter appearing on the floor). She has a command of the room and of the story she’s telling, whatever may be going on in her head.
The stage is stacked with loo rolls and a porcelain throne, which one might expect to play a bigger role than it does (it sees service mainly for a daft, toilet-paper related visual gag, which could be lost). There’s also a singalong closer that feels tacked on purely to add an element of audience participation. It seems likely that all these accoutrements are purely Edinburgh window-dressing. They add or subtract little.
Over the hour, the audience are neatly shepherded to the inconclusive conclusion – mental health doesn’t lend itself to resolution. It’s a successful way of confronting a difficult issue, and somehow, almost totally free of toilet humour.