Louise Beuvink saunters onstage in some seriously killer heels. She asks the audience to admire them, then immediately takes them off, because, as she acknowledges, they’re the ex boyfriend of shoes – you keep coming back to them, but they’ll just keep hurting you. It’s an observation that too many people in the audience can relate to, judging by the laughter and shaking of heads.
Beuvink then goes on to explore other aspects of etiquette and the pressure placed on women, from entertaining guests to constantly looking immaculate. She does a fun cooking show parody where she asks a member of the audience to help her make chicken liver pâté, without the chicken liver. However, the best bits of her show is when she tells us anecdotes about her own life, and her personal interpretation of what being ladylike means – she has enough charisma to carry the performance without the aid of any props.
Beuvink’s criticisms of being ladylike can sometimes feel like retreading old ground (most of us know that societal expectations regarding women’s appearance are both ridiculous and unobtainable), especially when there’s other material which could be explored in relation to etiquette – for example, how women are socialised to be polite, even when we feel threatened. Some of this is touched on in Ladylike, and when Beuvink does mention it, she does so in a very witty and astute manner; it leaves the audience wanting more.
Ladylike flows well, and deftly moves between valid frustration at the patriarchy to more tongue-in-cheek complaints (there’s a brilliant PG-13 rendition of a Julie Andrews classic in there). But the show might be even better if it stuck to Beuvink and her experiences more closely, instead of a generalised examination of womanhood – she seems like such a naturally engaging and good-natured person, we come away wishing we’d learned more about her.