Hearing the strains of Billy Bragg’s melancholy A New England there was a sense that this was going to be something a bit different from Felicity. Listening to the song now I realise how poignant, (especially the Kirsty MacColl version of it) is to Felicity’s show. In contrast to the soulful song though, Felicity bounds out in a gorgeous if appropriately crushed white dress and after some friendly banter with the audience and a cute slide show, tells us cheerfully what we’ve already guessed ‘This is the dress I should have got married in’.
Felicity explains the hedgehog dilemma meaning up front, it’s basically about a fear of intimacy, but this show is about so much more. This is about Felicity’s journey to the stage via heartbreak, loneliness, psychoanalysis and surviving alcoholism. Her ability to keep the audience in stitches throughout all of this is a testament to her stunning talent.
Early on in the show she gets the audience in the right frame of mind for her dark comedy with her hilarious and brilliant alcoholic shenanigans song, where she outlines many of the embarrassing incidents that happened while she was drunk to a jaunty tune. The incidents are appalling, the tune is upbeat and the audience is in tears of laughter.
The wedding gown is quickly doffed, as she sheds an unhealthy relationship and an unhealthy addiction, she finds herself alone and starting over. Her vulnerability is palpable as she stands in her underthings describing the move back to her family and it’s the closest I’ve seen to a comedian breaking down on stage. She bravely fights back the tears, while the audience reaches for their tissues, and moves on.
The Hedgehog Dilemma is obviously the most personal of Felicity’s festival shows and her comedy acting skills that shone out of the recent Working Dog film ‘Any Questions for Ben’ are beaming here. This is evident in her ability to create skilfully drawn and hilarious characters such as her slightly disturbing therapist. She treads the fine line between comedy and pathos masterfully, like an agile highwire act, ironically contrasting with the awkward and clumsy image she has of herself.
Her warm down to earth personality keeps the story relatable and a pleasure to experience. Felicity gets better each time I see her and I recommend that you might like to take some tissues with you, for the sad tears and the comedy tears that flow in abundance.
Felicity Ward performs The Hedgehog Dilemma at the Vic Bar of the Victoria Hotel