Note: This review is from the 2019 Fringe

The Nineties room in City Cafe is utterly rammed. As with any show, expectations are high when the room is packed to the brim like this. Simone Belshaw insists on a grand entrance, trying it several times until she gets the desired reaction. Goblin and Fiends does not disappoint, with an hour of stand-up that ticks pretty much every box for late-night comedy.

After introducing herself, she immediately welcomes on a guest comedian. Tonight, it’s Patrick Healy. His down-to-earth, self-deprecating humour has the crowd in stitches. Cutting a relaxed figure on-stage, he always has a small smile across his face as the audience laugh at almost everything he has to say. It is a strong guest appearance that adds variety to the show.

Belshaw herself is blessed with a fantastic talent for delivery and performance. Funny little facial expressions speak a thousand words, communicating to the audience exactly what she wants them to. Belshaw’s set is full of observational comedy about being a woman (or ‘tickling the balls of privilege,’ as she puts it) and the unwanted judgement it can bring – IVF treatment a particular focus of hers. She laughs off such criticism with an easy-to-love scorn. Her relationships are another topic addressed in her comedy, again picking up on how her life is expected to go a certain way. Never does she try and make her problems out to be the worst that there is, instead playing her own experiences out on-stage for comedic effect. 

Such topics are of course not unique to Belshaw, and the punchlines are pleasing if occasionally unsurprising. Nevertheless, this work-in-progress is as good a set as you are ever likely to find on the Free Fringe. Belshaw wins the crowd over with some good observational jokes and a feminist attitude as she laughs in the face of demeaning expectations. As good an hour of comedy as you would expect is helmed by a seriously talented comedian.