A CONSERVATIVE at heart, Beyoncé wouldn’t have it in her to deliver a debut stand-up hour as fresh, ambitious and vulnerable as this existential howl of anguish.
What Would Beyoncé Do?
Laughing Horse @ Meadow Bar (Venue 264)
Star rating: * * * *
But as her on stage alter-ego Sasha Fierce is to Ms Knowles, so Beyoncé emboldens Luisa Omielan to unleash her diva tendencies. And, rather reluctantly, her independent woman.
The star’s hits that frame this show, prompting Omielan to grind and gyrate, are little more than window dressing. But they charge the room with dynamic, rollercoaster energy.
Careering through a tightly scripted, yet seeming stream-of-consciousness account of her recent travails, this is a show in which Omielan revels in her fleeting triumphs because the lows are never far behind.
Manoeuvring past her aggressive thrusts on the way to your seat, you wonder, who is this intimidatingly confident young woman? She projects the persona of a proud, urban princess worthy of the same lifestyle as her hero. But from the moment she recalls assisting her kid brother’s bowel evacuations, she oscillates between bulletproof assurance and crippling insecurity, with the yo-yo mentality of a first-class honours graduate who was unemployed for four years and moved back in with Mum; sexually assertive, to the point of borderline rape when the passion takes her, pretending to be somebody else entirely the morning after. A recurring appeal for sisterly solidarity, “am I right ladies?” becomes increasingly desperate as she reveals ever more about herself.
Bold statements are undercut with a side-of-the-mouth, cutesy-creepy blurt of honesty, an inner monologue taking momentary possession of her body like a malignant demon.
As with her absent father issues, a foundered relationship is at the core of Omielan’s identity and it prompts an outstanding routine in which she piles her heart, soul and everything into a maritime metaphor, before the story takes a darker turn. She throws slightly too much into it but that’s forgiven as you’re swept up in her survivor’s exult.
• Until 26 August. Today 10:45pm.