By Jess Welch
If you thought you had a tough lockdown, try being the sole caretaker of your 97 year old Ukrainian grandmother, the titular Baba. You might not think a comedy show about caring for, and subsequently losing, a grandmother during the pandemic could possibly be funny. It doesn’t exactly seem like prime comedy material. But Joshua Ladgrove is no ordinary comedian.
Ladgrove weaves the story of not just caring for his grandmother while dealing with a global pandemic, but the wider stories around them. From his Baba’s upbringing in Ukraine, he details her life of ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies. He recounts his own upbringing, surrounded by family. It is a story of love and loss and hope and despair. It touches on so many heavy topics that to list them all would put anyone off buying a ticket. But that wouldn’t be doing it justice. It’s something that will stay with you, long after you leave. It’s one of those shows that’s more than comedy, yet still has more than enough light-hearted and hilarious moments to keep from dragging you too deep into the darker side. It’s comedy plus tragedy.
Ladgrove has been a familiar face at MICF for many years, though perhaps not always a familiar name. As a character performer, he won acclaim and more than a few awards. Now, in a completely startling departure from the world of character comedy, he takes to the stage as himself. It’s raw, powerful, hilarious and heartbreaking. Above all, it’s truthful – something most comedy can’t boast. It has moments of shock and discomfort. But all of that is soothed by equal moments of peace, calm and, most importantly, love. Ultimately, it is a tribute to the matriarch of his family and it is an incredibly beautiful one.
JOSHUA LADGROVE – BABA is on at the MELBOURNE TOWN HALL BACKSTAGE ROOM.