We entered the sweltering warmth of the Boiler Room at the Jam Factory to the fabulous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle theme song. There was a screen at the back and props including a miniature
Equal parts surreal self-help session for Campion, slide-show presentation, sketch show and the story of the rise and fall of the duo at the show's centre, there's a lot to take in here. The show tells the story of Campion's pursuit of a comedic partner, with her deciding on a lovedoll who goes by the name LP. Sometimes the routine works surprisingly well, there is a naturally funny quality to watching Campion interact with LP, an awkwardness that fits the show well. I especially enjoyed the recurring joke about a female Fight Club which was repeated throughout the hour. Campion bravely engaged with the audience, including several members during her sketch sections. Her focus fell on me early on as I had the misfortune of having some empty seats around me. But it was gentle and good-humoured, and I left with my dignity intact.
This show is one of the more surreal comedies I've seen and is fiercely ambitious. But sometimes this got in the way of the show being, well, funny. It is telling that near the end of the hour, Campion drops the concept at the heart of her show and pivots to pure stand-up, which is very funny. Technical issues and a last-minute replacement puppeteer didn't help Campion and I left the performance feeling somewhat frustrated. There is the nugget of a good idea here; an exploration of the struggle for confidence that we can all face. Campion came across as a supremely talented performer. And yet I'm not sure if this show can reach its potential. It was a big ask and in this instance, it didn't quite work.
But the fact that it came close on a number of occasions gives me pause to think I might have watched something brilliant, and just not have fully understood it. Certainly I'd go back and watch more of Campion's material. And I'd like to end by commending QED Comedy Lab who have put on a festival packed with exciting talent and have done all this with a roughly 50:50 gender split. They make it look easy and are the standard that other comedy organisers should be aiming to reach ASAP.