It's an unusual time to post, at 8 o'clock in the morning, in my world anyway. And I guess Eurovision isn't really a good enough excuse to justify not blogging last night and having to finish it off in the morning. Really not, especially when the Dutch girl singing about birds not flying was dull enough to move anyone away from the telly and make them blog.
But this post's sole purpose in life is not to broadcast conventional opinions about Eurovision. Oh no. Then, my blog's slogan would not be "mentally reframing the commonplace". I steer away from posting about things the whole of Europe have seen (and if I do, I form unique, not repetitive opinions about them). Instead, I post about hidden theatrical gems like this.
|*this image isn't mine|
A real Potterhead would recognise this as the actress behind Lavender Brown in the final three movies. But now Jessie Cave's taken a step away from the Divination-loving Hogwarts student, and reincarnated herself as a slightly obsessive bookworm in her debut comedy act, Bookworms United. The title refers to a new book club our enthusiastic host has created, that apparently "could spend a whole meeting discussing the use of colons". Thankfully the show, structured around the group's "first meeting", is themed around books rather than the aforementioned punctuation mark, and is a plethora of Jessie's literary inspirations and memories, described with the passion and slight goofiness of a real bookworm.
It's the simple, non-professional style staging that really reinforces the book club theme. We see easy-to-handle props that might be used in a real group if the leader was feeling theatrical: simple shadow puppet shows depicting stories (including a literal interpretation of the metaphor "a bear following a star"), handmade posters decorating the set and blankets covering figures, the figures revealed to be Jessie's favourite book heroines (Celeste from the Babar books, Mrs Beaver from Narnia and Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo). There was nothing particularly technical about the set and props, which made you really believe Jessie when she asked for requests to be the "future host of our group!", and that this was a regularly meeting book group.
Another aspect of the show that really made it personal was the use of Jessie's family in the supporting roles. Her (real life) younger sister Bebe was her shy assistant (and her brother Boris an erratic sound and lighting technician), with only "it was adequate" as a compliment for her puppet show and constant refusal from Jessie to perform her Hunger Games routine (Bebe was always seen with a bow and arrow slung around her shoulder), making for a genuine sister-sister relationship that unfortunately may have been not too separated from real life. This made Jessie less an actress and more a real person with real passion for books, as did the truthful, if a little exaggerated anecdotes about her childhood, chiefly her national youth tennis successes: "I was groomed to be the next Venus Williams, but an injury made me come back to books". These reminiscences, or what she called "my back-of-the-book blurb" made Jessie an actual person, a friend to the audience, not just someone standing up there and telling jokes about books.
However, it was Jessie's delivery and the general atmosphere of the show that actually made us laugh, not the actual content. While the jokes obviously were present, it was more Jessie's references to her personal and family life, her awkward-in-a-good-way delivery, her interaction with Bebe and her exaggerated enthusiasm and book obsession (all the bits that weren't the main focus of the show) that made it into a comedy act, not her anecdotes about Babar and Narnia. While there were decent one-liners like "Celeste giving birth to three elephants in 11 minutes wasn't fun", they were few and far between, and were usually preceded by self-indulgent tangents about her mother reading them to her as a child or her remembering all seven Narnia books. These just seemed a bit more for her than the audience, like when a friend talks about their old friends or weird habits they had when they were five: they know you won't be interested, so they talk for purely their own enjoyment. Everyone knows the plot of Narnia, so cut down on the irrevelant tangents and get on to the bit people will actually find funny.
The first thing my Dad said when we got out of the show was "it's a bit like Dramatis Persona doing a comedy show". I'm not sure whether to be flattered by that or not.
PS I've not forgotten about the 10 Day Photo Challenge, I have photographed for the Book theme, and can't wait to do a post about it!