THE WAY YOU TELL THEM
Camden People’s Theatre
Published: 17 January, 2013
by LUCY DANSER
This month Camden People’s Theatre hosts the Beyond the Joke festival, which explores what happens when theatre and stand-up meet. It’s a crossover that’s being debated more widely as the UK’s comedy industry grows and the first show in the season, Rachel Mars’ The Way You Tell Them, is quite clearly the product of these two artforms. Rachel, like many of us, relies on humour to get through hard situations.
But when is it inappropriate to jest? Referencing the Talmudic repentances made on the Jewish Day of Atonement regarding ridiculing serious situations, and explaining where her jokes failed to lighten the mood, Mars explores the ways she and others use humour, why we do so and how we’d manage if we didn’t.
Drawing on family experiences, interesting tales and a fine collection of joke books, Mars rarely commits herself to too fixed an opinion but instead cleverly sets up scenarios so the audience can personally experience the arguments she’s making.
It doesn’t always work. She covers so much ground that it starts to feel a little convoluted, stories and arguments weaving in and out of each other until it gets a little overwhelming. Thanks to her fun, goofy persona there are plenty of laughs, although the more heartfelt moments sometimes feel a little forced which, to be fair, can be forgiven in a piece about using humour to deflect these very feelings. Overall this is an engaging piece of theatre that explores a very human trait in an honest and interesting way.
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