Lois is an action hero come to save the world from the evil Jill Melon. She stands astride the stage in a black jumpsuit and a curly blonde wig looking like a cross between Lara Croft and Shirley Temple. Lois is also the hilarious alter-ego of Lucy Farrett who has come to skewer every action movie cliché in the book in her sophomore Fringe show.
They are all here, present and correct. Tragic hero backstory? Check. Training montage? Check. A random scene of moody contemplation? Check. A maniacal villain with a convoluted plan and a love of monologuing? Check and double-check. There is a whole host more.
Given how often most of these tropes have been parodied this show could have ended up being a laundry list of lazy references. Far from it though as Farrett subverts these staples in a variety of interesting and intelligent ways. Her role-reversal deconstruction of Bond’s complete disregard for consent is a particular highlight. Also, Lois and the other characters Farrett has created for the piece, such as the aforementioned Melon, are sufficiently left-field that it still feels fresh.
Throughout Farrett keeps the energy high and the jokes flowing thick and fast. So, even if you’re groaning at one of the shows many bad puns one minute, you be laughing at one of Lois’s misadventures the next. For example, a montage of trigger-happy Lois’s attempts at real jobs, always ending in lethal results, is a real gem.
Farrett also gets the crowd involves in several fun ways, including a surreal but very amusing running Catfish-based gag.
If this was all the show was, a series of well-worked pastiches, it would still be good. But what elevates it is the surprise nuances brought by a meta-commentary that explores self-image and idealised alternative-selves. This commentary could have easily felt out of place or tonally upset the show. However, these moments never tips into po-facedness, and are seamlessly worked in by Farrett.
The show goes out on a high as in true action-movie style we end on a series of increasingly absurd plot revelations each funnier and wackier than the last.
Lois is a fast-paced, fun-filled hour of character comedy that successfully manages to subvert expectations and has some surprising nuisances.