Review: Barbara Brownskirt – The Return with Mary the Beard and Audrey Heartburn – ★★★★★
A hilarious night out with Penge punk poet and Judi Dench groupie Barbara Brownskirt
Barbara Brownskirt (a character of Karen McLeod) is the best of anarchic comedy, shouting her way through some beautifully written, often cringe-fuelled poetry. To pivot from taking the piss to tugging on our heartstrings is a tall order, and Brownskirt does it with ease.
Barbara is a fierce lesbian in her iconic cagoule, pop-socks and glasses. She is ready to smash up the patriarchy by way of trash-talking her cruel ex Susan, an obsession with Judi Dench, and sending a warning to man-spreaders everywhere.
The ad-libs, intros and in-betweens really show off Karen McLeod’s Brownskirt character comedy, making her utterly believable, delightfully mundane, as well as batshit surreal. Clearly the crowd she attracts brings a generous inclusive atmosphere to a venue that can sometimes feel tailored to the male gaze.
Guest turn Audrey Heartburn (Tracey Collins) gave a madcap and show-stopping performance as the Hollywood great, bringing music and mayhem to the line up.
Mary The Beard delivered an offbeat performance about love for standing stones via the medium of art critic heroine Mary Beard’s sandal. Perhaps a little more Mary next time might make this act more coherent.