Lauren Pattison wanders unassumingly into the small room of the Pleasance Attic with an almost bashful greeting. She doesn’t have a big enough voice to go for the big entrance, she explains. The next hour is all about finding that voice, in a show that oscillates wildly between real pathos and fist-pumping triumph.
In person Pattison is disarmingly petite. She’s 23, but looks younger. Like most of a small stature from her part of the country she takes on the role of the bolshy, gobby Northerner: the habitual armour donned against the world. She’s plain-speaking, unpretentious; a wee Scrappy Doo without the tendency to instil thoughts of murder in those she encounters.
For a while, Lady Muck ticks by pleasantly enough. It’s a perfectly good debut hour, as she takes the audience through the occasional highs and many plunging lows of her last twenty months as a professional comedian. The creation of her show acts as a loose framework for her frank, unfiltered take on life, relationships and a prodigious alcohol intake. There are some delicious and/ or graphic turns of phrase and smart gags, but it’s occasionally generic material,with an over-reliance on the Geordie working class stereotype, albeit wielded with impish glee.
Suddenly, there’s a noticeable shift in gear, and a flood of passion; and we’re in darker, more intense territory. “I realised I kept using the phrase, ‘I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin,'” she says. She’s by no means the first comedian to explore this sensation. If comedy was a religion, this sense of insecurity would undoubtedly be a central tenet, but there is such a haemorrhaging rawness to her examination you worry it’s a wound that can’t possibly be staunched. It’s genuinely heart-wrenching. There’s a slight tempering of emotion with more caustic humour, but the mood remains viscously heightened.
The floodgates finally break with a moment of realisation, and the knowledge that this show has evolved to its potential at just the right time. There are unchecked tears in Pattison’s eyes, and surely a few in the audience as she brings the show to a conclusion that feels akin to a last-second net-burster at a cup final. It could be trite, and “learn to love yourself” as a maxim is existence 101, but Pattison is so engaging that it feels like epiphany.
Lady Muck is an occasionally uneven hour, but few shows will leave you feeling quite so moved and ultimately uplifted. Pattison has found her voice, and it can only get stronger.