There is a ridiculous amount of fizz in a Harriet Kemsley show. She bounces on, and seems all well-behaved girly body language and Home County vowels. But the joy of Harriet is that all is never as it seems.
Harriet Kemsley: Slutty Joan, Voodoo Rooms (Venue 68) ****
She is like a cocktail that’s sweet and sparkly on top but turns out to contain a lot of overproof rum underneath. After some extraordinary tales of things she’s done when drunk, Harriet reveals her dyspraxia diagnosis, her phone dependency and why she misses the Ice Bucket challenge.
She worries about the different personal and moral standards to which men and women are held – hence the reference to the eponymous Joan. Harriet, she tells us, is no stranger to life’s sexual funfair and has tried quite a few of the rides (which experiences fuel hilarious anecdotage about STD clinics and an escapade with a boy called Billy that pretty much illustrates the Mars and Venus principle).
Harriet was an eager learner at school (all girls) and her accounts of her early exploits are, for many of us women in the room, as familiar as they are candid as they are funny. And so when things turn dark towards the end, and Harriet recounts two tales of trauma that have haunted her, once since childhood, the room is silent but entirely with her. Because she is Harriet, she doesn’t want to end the show on a downer and she does pull out – if not all – many of the stops to give her hour a big finish.
She is an extraordinarily talented young woman with a gift for comedy and a story to tell. Oh, and she once ate a plate when drunk. What’s not to love?
• Until 25 August, 5.55pm