New Zealander Louise Beuvink’s show ‘Ladylike: A Modern Guide to Etiquette’ is a little hard for me to classify. Beuvink describes it early in the show as ‘Feminist Satire’, which it certainly was. No-one from the current century would be likely to miss the sarcasm and satirical intent, especially in the latter part of the show (it really shone through in the ‘reverse friendzone’ story). The title however, gave rise to an expectation that it may closely parody those well-known (and now somewhat horrifying) guides from throughout the first half of the 20th century that taught young married woman how to behave, dress, cook, eat and look after their husband’s every need. And loosely, it did. There were sections related to appearance, satisfying your man, cooking, finding yourself a husband, understanding sport and entertaining. But overall, the theme didn’t really feel needed. The connection to the concept of ‘modern etiquette’ was quite stretched at times, and other than the ‘cooking’ and makeup demonstrations, I think all of the content would have worked just as well as straight forward stand-up with a feminist slant. I think it needed to take the parody further, to really make the modern etiquette theme work as satire.
Having said that, it was frequently very funny (like most stand up, it had highs and lows). The women in the audience were all laughing much of the time, and the men were probably balanced between laughing and trying to scrub their brains clean of things they wish they could unhear. It was entertaining, and I concede Beuvink can’t be blamed for the expectations caused by the way I interpreted the description. It was a solid launch for Beuvink to the world of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Despite a fairly confident performance, her nerves were evident in repetitive actions such as playing with her fringe, which was a bit distracting. No doubt, the nerves will ease as Beuvink’s engagement at The Butterfly Club continues this week.
Ladylike: A Modern Guide to Etiquette makes for a good girls night out. A warning for the guys – be prepared to learn about the most personal, obscure and slightly terrifying options available to women at the beauty therapist!