Barbara Nice is not an easy act to review; simply because it is so gloriously unique and incomparable to anything I have ever been to before.
Taking on the persona of a housewife and mother of 5, Barbara Nice is the woman who we all knew in our lives that believes in never washing windows after dark; always carrying wool and that old-fashioned values are the best. Whether that, like me, is your mum or your grandma or auntie, Barbara is just like her and is immediately relatable and cheering.
Barbara begins her show by encouraging everybody to find a partner in the room to wave at during Eye of the Tiger, which is shortly followed by an impromptu game of the ‘What time is it Mr Wolf?’ with the entire audience tentatively following Barbara around the theatre (what fourth wall?!). By the second half, your sides are hurting and an audience full of strangers have all of a sudden become friends.
After the interval (which I spent outside smoking with my new audience friends and Barbara), Barabara came up with the idea of the entire audience going backstage, introducing ourselves and walking on together to Whitney Houston’s Dance With Somebody. The funniest part of which was the awkward glances of the stage crew as we all piled into the wings like naughty school children under Barbara’s mischievous command.
This was followed by a clever game of the audience passing wool around the room on the basis of what connections a room full of strangers can make, which included going to Blackpool as a child, playing musical instruments and hometowns. Surprisingly, soon enough the entire audience was holding part of the wool, which was later tied to some helium balloons for us all to go outside and release them where the show ended to raucous applause on the pavements of the theatre.
Babs and the audience outside the theatre after releasing the balloons and nearly getting ran over by a taxi
It is not only, however, these fun activities and the genuine feeling of cheeriness and almost life affirming outlook Barbara imparts on her audience; but as a comedienne, she is witty, shrewd and current, too.
Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre and its staff also deserve a mention, as a new space it was perfect for the event. Set out informally with tables and chairs rather than a traditional theatre set up and manned with staff that did very well to go along with the unusual demands of Mrs Nice.
If you ever get the chance to see Barbara Nice in action (you can see some of her dates and locations here) I certainly recommend you go because I can resolutely assure you that you will laugh throughout and come away with an usual spring in your step, our kid.
By Kirsty Hulse (@kirsty_hulse)