BETTY
Vaudeville Theatre, London WC2
Opened 9 July, 2002

* Unpleasant shows like this give vulgarity a bad name

Comedian Geraldine McNulty has been performing Karen McLachlan's character pieces for some time, but a whole playful of them is just awful.

It begins when 49-year-old religiose spinster Betty Buchanan sits on her washing machine during its spin cycle and experiences her first ever orgasm. By way of penance, she goes on a coach-party pilgrimage to Iona. That's the story, such as it is. The show mercifully, only 70 minutes long is a string of adolescent sex gags and the kind of bile that only a lapsed Catholic can really summon up. We begin by laughing at Betty's ridiculous, innocent priggishness, and find ourselves identifying more and more with her only because everyone else we encounter is much more deeply unpleasant.

It doesn't help that director Kathy Burke has zeroed in unerringly on the filth and coarseness and has instructed McNulty to play every animated moment to the hilt.  A bit of thought has gone into McLachlan's writing, but not nearly enough, and the production manages to conceal it extremely effectively.

It would be fine as an Edinburgh Fringe piece, or a late-night show, playing to a tanked-up audience with minimal expectations, but in the prime slot in a West End venue it's horrendously out of place. Frankly, the spin cycle is likely to be much more fun.

Written for divento.com

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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