From having emotional epiphanies whilst surrounded by platitudes in garden centre gift shops to examining how our society views a Northern accent, Rachel Fairburn’s Wolf at the Door covers a lot of ground in just an hour’s set. Rachel lays bare a low point in her life, a relationship breakdown and the aftermath, with searing honesty and poignant hilarity. Jokes abound and by the end of the show, the audience is wholly on her side.
Although Rachel’s delivery is reminiscent of a frank discussion with your mate down the pub, this did lead to a few slightly overlong diatribes. Her story already elicits sympathy and recognition from the audience so these could have been snappier and been just as effective. There were a few nods to the successful podcast, All Killa No Filla, she makes with fellow comic Kiri Pritchard-Mclean, which were well received by the audience. But this is her show and Rachel makes sure you get to know her through some dark times in her life. At the crux of the show is the reality that we all make mistakes, from which we can choose to learn something so that we eventually move on. Whether it’s an unfortunate drawing as a kid, an odd choice for a talent show or failing to address when a relationship has problems, Rachel has been there and she’s got through it all. A reminder to the audience that making mistakes is part of life. She cleverly frames it all through observations about how terrible generic life advice found on garden centre fridge magnets really is.
The examination of mental health, cultural attitudes to acceptable female behaviour, and how rumours should never be believed could be all doom and gloom but Rachel manages to tie everything together in a comical and entertaining way. Ending with some help from possibly one of the youngest participants in the Fringe, the audience sees how close to the brink Rachel was but she brings herself and the crowd back with an especially astute joke. A thoughtful and introspective set that will resonate with anyone who has had a messy breakup, made silly mistakes or just wants to see the funny side of feeling lost.