What a time to be introduced to a comedian. Priya Hall has been through such a period of upheaval that she’s almost an entirely new proposition to herself. She has quit a stable job to concentrate on comedy, she’s split with her long-term boyfriend, and embraced her hitherto dormant queer side and set up home with a ‘little, tiny lesbian’. As such we learn about Priya through a prism of the residual wonder that still radiates from her as she contemplates her new deal with the universe. A nice enough prospect. It also helps that she’s a stellar storyteller with a faux-shocked giggle-behind-her-hand sense of filthy humour.
‘Grandmother’s Daughter’ is an hour of dense narrative with two main threads that could easily have been separate shows on their own. Firstly, Hall’s effusive, beguiling portrait of her formidable, anti-authoritarian Grandmother, with whom she has the closest of bonds. Nanna Hall longs for the past, but only because she whizzed through her young adulthood on a diet of Dexamyl, and would like to try it again. She’s still raging against the machine but is more than happy to sit back and let Priya’s little, tiny lesbian come and mow her lawn, because after sticking it to the man for so long, she deserves to relax a bit.
The second strand details the difficulty of a lesbian couple trying to conceive a child through IVF. Potentially tricky subject matter is navigated by Priya with the lightest of touches, even when obstacle after obstacle is piled in their way. For every moment that could be despairing, Hall disarms it with a great quip like the book of potential sperm donors being like, ‘Argos for cum’. Also, Priya never refers to her girlfriend by name, so every time she’s referred to as ‘tiny lesbian’, she begins to take on an almost mythical quality functions both as a lovely running gag, and an indicator that the otherwise open, garrulous comic knows when to hold just enough back.
Priya Hall is an absolute natural on stage. A terrific raconteur with a beautiful, lilting Welsh accent that sounds like molten chocolate even when she’s talking about torrents of semen. The disconnect between voice and content is a constant source of amusement in itself. ‘Grandmother’s Daughter’ is so stuffed with material that some of the more insubstantial material runs together somewhat, but the way the two central strands of Hall’s debut slowly entwine like a helix is wonderfully done, and above all the love she holds for two of the most important women in her life is palpable. Even in an insanely strong year for debut hours, this is one of the finest.
‘Grandmother’s Daughter’ runs until Sun 27 Aug 2023 at Monkey Barrel 2 at 16:20