Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Proving you can make a stand-up show about literally anything if the performer is skilled enough, Lou Conran’s latest hour recounts a traumatic recent event in her life.
Just the Tonic at The Mash House (Venue 288)
While not holding back on the heartbreak, she isn’t dragged down by it either, delivering a very funny but sensitively handled, deeply personal take on the subject.
Initially though, I Love Lou C is simply about her rather dysfunctional relationship with her neighbours, the thin walls of her Manchester flat ensuring she could hear everything they were up to. Inspiring a certain amount of mischief but also soul-searching in the comic, she recognises that her own sex life is pedestrian by comparison. So much so that she’s invented an imaginary husband, Geoff.
Having reached middle-age with a desire to be a mother, Conran experimented with sperm banks. But after inadvertently seeing the quality of the seed being deposited, she resigned herself to not having children. Then of course, an encounter with a gentlemen caller, unsparing in the messy detail of their intimacy, got her knocked up. This episode, and the character studies she affords of people like her tiny-voiced doctor and best friend Jane-On-The-Inbreath underpin some fine routines, rendered in roguishly vivid detail.
Sadly, they’re also the lead-up to tragedy, as five months into her pregnancy, Conran is told that her baby has a condition which means it won’t be able to survive outside the womb, leading to an induced, stillborn birth.
Although there are elements of the grief that Conran understandably holds back on, it’s remarkable how much she shares, finding humour even at her child’s funeral, even as the poignancy of the sorrow is undeniable. Moving but occasionally laugh out loud hilarious, something good has unquestionably come from the pain.
Until 27 August. Today 1:20pm.