Andy Howells reviews Fiona Allen’s stand-up debut, On The Run at The Riverfront Theatre, Newport.
“Thank goodness I’m not the only bloke here, I thought I might get picked on” a stranger said to me as we queued for Fiona Allen’s debut comedy show, outside The Riverfront studio on Thursday evening.
As I headed to my seat, I did get his point. The audience largely consisted of females. As I sat down, I then heard a lady behind me comment, “I think this show is for our demographic, it’ll be great fun.” For a moment, I was confused. I’ve never considered myself to be part of a demographic, in fact I find difficulty fitting in with anybody. Still, a few other men then made their way into the studio with their respective partners and the conversation behind me moved on to dog poo, so maybe I didn’t have to worry about been part of a demographic after all.
Supporting was comedian Nick Page, who packed his 20-minute slot full to bursting with stories on his four wives, community service, a jail sentence and asking that all important question as to why babies have pockets in their outfits. Nick’s natural delivery regaling tales of self-inflicted disaster from a life living on the edge got the Newport audience in good spirits and did well to put any men who thought they might be in the wrong show at ease.
After a break, it was Fiona Allen’s turn to take to the floor with On the Run. As the stories unfolded, the laughter followed in abundance. Sharp, funny and very real, Fiona is very much at home on the stand-up circuit as she tells stories about her life.
And what a life! Growing up watching Scooby Doo and thinking everything is a mystery – and actually it is! A northern dad (who can’t pronounce his Spanish wife’s name), a mum (whose accent seems to have touches of Lancashire in it). Then there’s a husband plus children who won’t put things away, passive aggressive mums in the school yard and to top it all off – a pet dog that’s at war with Rolf Harris’s dog (oh dear, Rolf was Fiona’s neighbour!).
So, there’s small wonder Fiona sets out after 20 years of raising the family to fulfil an ambition by going into stand-up. Except she didn’t expect to encounter super-market dress codes, sex robots, and a gas lighting coffee Barista on her travels. All this and there are fleeting glimpses (via perfect impressions) of Fiona’s Spanish mum, Stacey Dooley and Fiona Bruce.
On The Run is a must-see show, and as a concept with legs (excuse the pun) has potential to develop into other mediums. In the meantime, if you see Fiona Allen heading to a theatre near you, be sure to catch her before she goes On The Run to the next venue!