views from the gods

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Lil Darling's Lady Power
Camden Comedy Club
21st August 2017


Lilly Philips as Lil Darling

Photography provided by the Ruby Darlings

Three years ago, I found myself in a slightly damp tunnel singing enthusiastically "it's for number two, not to pleasure you" with a total group of strangers. Although you might think this sort of evening out only happens once in a lifetime, Lil Darling (Lily Phillips), one half of sassy comedy cabaret duo the Ruby Darlings, is back with one-woman show Lady Power, that infamous sex song, and new material. Make no mistake, this is one hour of all things vagina-related and she even goes as far as to hold a Mooncup demonstration during the show, but this is filthily funny stuff. Whilst the topic may seem a little gender-specific, Lady Power is a pleasurable experience for all.

Amongst other educational titbits, Phillips introduces us to many different names for lady parts - and us her, with one audience member openly admitting her vagina is named Brutus. (Because, why not?) Phillips sings, we sing and she talks about all the issues she feels are affecting a not-quite-30-something woman today. Frequently she makes a quiet throwaway remark or flashes us a cheeky grin, pausing at all the right moments and building an instant rapport. She quite clearly has everyone's attention (not least because she looks incredible), however it feels like we're all having one big group discussion together and there's a safe, conspiratorial atmosphere.

Phillips is very aware of her audience and surroundings, and that's what makes her such an endearing comedienne. Rather than pretend anything unplanned just didn't happen, she styles out every mishap. It's entirely possible that she broke up one of the couples in the room with one line of questioning, but let's be honest, she paved the way for a discussion that needed to be had. Impressively, she dispelled the awkwardness immediately with warmth, kindness and comedic flair. I'm not sure what it would take to knock her off her game, because as well as a naturally dirty mind, she instinctively seems able to cope with any deliberate or accidental derailment.

There are a few brief moments where the energy drops slightly - surprisingly, it's not the tampon alternatives that cause this. Instead it's the politics. She shoehorns in a bit of Brexit, which I suppose is to bulk out her set. However, this doesn't land as well as the rest, possibly because audiences are growing bored of Brexit jokes now and subconsciously starting to panic about what will actually happen to us in due course. Her Trump material is better received. Let's face it, no one will ever get tired of poking fun at America's celebrity president. No one. And especially not anyone who identifies as a feminist.

Whilst it's a shame that pianist David Timms isn't anywhere in sight, presumably it's his tinkling of the ivories we can hear pre-recorded. Phillips is a classy act (yes, despite the swearing and gesticulating) and live accompaniment always elevates a performance. It doesn't seem quite right that someone of her calibre is singing against a recording. Nonetheless, the comedy songs are written sharply and belted out with ease. There is one unexpectedly soulful number about not wanting babies yet that allows us to appreciate just how strong Phillips' voice is, and how easily she can control it. She's funny, she's mesmerising and most of all, she's a damn fine singer.

Just because there isn't a Ruby on stage, doesn't mean Lady Power isn't an absolute gem of a show. Phillips more than holds her own and gives us an hour of feminist comedy to remember.

Lil Darling's Lady Power opened on 21st August and runs until 23rd August 2017 at the Camden Comedy Club, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Camden Town (Northern)

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