Katie Brennan's Quarter-Life Crisis

Wed 3rd – Mon 29th August 2016

reviews

Jessica Baxter

at 10:18 on 9th Aug 2016

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My favourite part about Katie Brennan’s ‘Quarter Life Crisis’ comedy-cum-cabaret show was the end, when it ended. After experiencing a multitude of soppy musical numbers, and cheap laughs about sex and booze, and a sound system that was far too loud, I was ready to go home.

This is all a bit harsh. Katie Brennan herself comes across as a lovely and genuine person, sporting glitzy silver eye shadow that promises fun and delight. She can sing immensely well too, no doubt about that. It is simply not a funny show and not relatable on any level to her ‘twenty-somethings’ she tirelessly calls out to.

I’m the youngest generation of this demographic, but I guarantee her jokes are not applicable to anyone in the age bracket. I was reminded of how my mother, attempting to sound cool and young and hip, supplements her feelings with extensive use of iPhone emojis at any given opportunity. The basic concept for Brennan’s show is a promising one, but the content does not match the context: the cabaret-style singing would work better for an older generation, and not for talking about being a 90s baby listening to Nirvana.

Brennan’s show comprises intermittent belters of song after she talks a little bit about her life. Each ‘comedy’ section seems to be forced into the sequence of songs to make the narrative fit. The music takes centre stage here, and comedy takes the back seat. Neither is mind-blowing. Brennan is a great singer, and maybe told a funny joke once, and thought she could combine the two.

The only saving grace of the act was Brennan’s talented piano-playing partner, Joseph Atkins, because of how much he clearly loved playing the keyboard. His fingers dance deftly and lightly over the keys, and an endearing glee shines through his humble face when he sweeps his hand across the keyboard to end a song. What’s confusing is Brennan’s credit to him for writing all the music and lyrics – does this mean Brennan is not genuine after all? And is simply the singing mouthpiece for another person, who is older in years and the opposite sex to the jokes that are trying to be relatable?

Overall, I did not enjoy the performance. I think Brennan should perhaps choose between the two fields of cabaret and comedy, and leave out the cringe-inducing gags about giving a blowjob.

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Ed Grimble

at 16:18 on 9th Aug 2016

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“If you enjoyed show, please do tell your friends. If you didn't- don't be a dick- maybe just don’t say anything at all.” Well, sorry Katie, but I do have a reasonable amount to say. ‘Quarter-Life Crisis’, Brennan’s labelling of the crisis that can befall twenty-somethings who find that their degree in drama has not catapulted them to fame and fortune but is actually just something to look at at the end of another shift at Argos, is a combination of story-telling, cabaret singing, and stand-up comedy. An unusual sounding cocktail for a show, and one that perhaps wants pouring down the sink.

I cannot dispute that Brennan is a perfectly amiable and gregarious young woman. She is full of verve and buoyancy, and seems like the sort of person with whom you could wile away a perfectly pleasant and enjoyable afternoon, or who would liven up any potentially drab post-work drinks get together. However, the material of her Edinburgh Fringe show is at its best uninspired, and at its worst rank and repellent. With accompaniment from the wonderful Joseph Atkins on the keyboard, Brennan delivers a number of roof-raising cabaret numbers in between some chit-chat and stand up routines about her life as a bright eyed and bushy tailed London girl about town. Atkins is a joy, his fingers dance over the keys with the vibrancy of someone who takes great pride and pleasure in bringing music to others.

However, one very quickly discovers that ‘cabaret’ here is merely a by-word for musical pastiches that rely on poor quality, bawdy humour, that for whatever reason have been deemed enjoyable and worthy of laughter or applause. A particularly crass number about sleeping with men and the ups and downs of oral sex leaves me physically repulsed. Perhaps though, Brennan’s bawdy Wife of Bath-esque persona is merely an act, a joke in itself- but the autobiographical and honest ‘story of my life’ format of the show makes me think otherwise.

It is the trivialising attitude towards anxiety and depression which make me desperate for the show to come to an end, however. Brennan’s pearls of wisdom for keeping the dog at bay amount to the insipid ‘be cute to yourself’, i.e. curl up with ‘a battered copy of ‘Harry Potter’, and paint your nails. There is not space in a review of this length to discuss how endlessly problematic lyrics that accuse those who feel debilitated with worry or self-criticism as being as ‘lazy as an old French whore’ are.

This hour long romp through uninspired stand up and deeply unpleasant music is an abject failure; a nauseating experience that is more Wife of Barf than anything else.

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Comments

Catherine Turner; 9th Aug 2016; 18:41:11

We thought this was funny and a good night out, well worth a visit and a proper laugh.

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