Thorny Questions, Helen Thorn’s first solo show in 11 years is a refreshing and humorous look at some of the “big questions” facing us in 2017. Thorn is an ex-pat Australian living in Britain, well known as part of the duo Scummy Mummies. The audience was made up entirely of women, and I did feel some sympathy for the tech guy, as the lone male in the room. Thorny Questions is definitely a show aimed at middle-aged women. I’m not saying that a male couldn’t have found the show funny… but there was a certain feeling of camaraderie and shared experiences as we laughed together at Thorn’s irreverent, but honest reflections.
Not for the first time this MICF, this show reflected on what a rough year 2016 was, and how we are all mourning the pre-Trump era. Thorn reflected on some of the difficulties and pressures in today’s society, and asked the hard questions… why are skinny people appropriating the clothing choices of the more well-endowed, such as wearing active wear in public; why do MAMILs feel the need to display their private parts in hot pink lycra in cafés; and has it become more important to use social media to announce you are doing things than to actually do them?
Thorn’s costume choice of a black cat suit made it clear at a glance that she would not be kowtowing to media pressure and societal body shaming, and her humour focused quite heavily on the acceptance of body and self – as she pointed out, self-hate is simply too time consuming! Her reflections on the ‘condition’ of being in a long-term relationship, parenthood, teenage bullying, coping with in-laws and growing up as a teen in the 90’s in Australia were hilarious, and it seemed that the audience could relate to many of her experiences. Thorn also included 3 ‘alter-egos’ who were amusing, but not as funny to my mind as her straight stand up. Her cousin ‘Gus’ made an appearance, as did her Mother-in-Law and ‘alternative’ Helen – who might she have been if she had made different choices in life?
I hope Thorn has an excellent relationship with her mother-in-law as there was some biting humour focused on that relationship, and she also named and shamed her teen bully (which was given additional impact by the attendance of some old friends). For the most part, Thorn’s humour is positive, if a little self-deprecating. She described Thorny Questions as her midlife crisis. It may be, but it was one we could all relate to. And it ended on an uplifting note – don’t change yourself – change the world!