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Born On a Welsh Mountain In the Year That Elvis Died
Etcetera Theatre
3rd August 2015


Publicity image for Born On a Welsh Mountain In the Year That Elvis Died

Photography provided by Liz Frances Hobbs

Liz Frances Hobbs apparently knows everyone. Well, everyone who's turned up to see her show, that is. If you don't already know her, by the end of her set she'll either befriend you or hit on you, depending on how cute you are. Hobbs is playful, friendly and certainly knows an opportunity when she sees one. Her very long titled solo debut Born On a Welsh Mountain In the Year That Elvis Died is an hour of comedy which attempts to illustrate the parallels between her life, and that of The King himself. Uh-huh-huh. It might seem like a bit of an ask, but actually, it's not just a pretty name and she's not just a pretty face. Hobbs doesn't need to dig as deep as you might expect to justify her concept.

Almost as casually as asking you to pass the pepper, Hobbs mentions that she's a former drug addict. With that in mind, you have to imagine she's been to some pretty dark places (addiction isn't exactly famed for sunshine and lollipops), but she comes across as an impossibly cheery type, with an infectiously positive mood you couldn't dampen even if you wanted to. Actually, maybe that resilience - not to mention her penchant for yoga and meditation - is what proves she's been on such a difficult journey. She gets knocked down, she watches bad movies (Kevin Costner, we're looking at you), but you're never going to keep her down.

Anecdotes about simple emails and fridge magnets skilfully stride the line between downright bleak and hilarious. Bad parenting is always a relatable subject (if I'd been born 10 years later, I'm pretty sure social services would have taken me away). I'm still chuckling at that message from her father. Possibly because it's the sort of note my own English dad would send. However, much of Hobbs' material is rather more fascinating than it is funny. The show is based on her work-in-progress memoirs and whilst I can see how the finished book will be one you just don't want to put down, there's a question as to whether this live version is the best medium for all her stories. I had great fun in the Etcetera, however I might have preferred to read through Hobbs' life at my own pace.

Born on a Welsh Mountain is really just Hobbs having a gentle natter with us, so there aren't any elaborate props required. However, using projected images adds a bit of interest to what she has to say, and helps give a bit of polish to the overall production. It's an easy trick, but hey, it works.

Hobbs is incredibly likeable and engaging, but whilst many of her stories are compelling, they're not not side-splittingly comedic. Born on a Welsh Mountain is a warm, personal and enjoyable show with at least one picture of an unimpressed cat in it. Plus, if you're nice to Hobbs, she may even teach you how to put your legs behind your head. This is a comedy gig which will both entertain and surprise. Hidden. Depths.

Born On a Welsh Mountain In the Year That Elvis Died opened on 3rd August and runs until 5th August 2015 at the Etcetera Theatre, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Camden Town (Northern)

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