Self-love! Batman! Polyamory! Death!
These were but a few landmarks visited throughout the comedic terrain of Shevvi Barrett-Brown’s solo stand up hour, shevvi, haha. the void, part of SUDS’ Summer Season. A one-night stand (up), Barrett-Brown’s show gifted the audience with laughs plucked from unexpected topics, cheeky improvised moments and, often, poignant emotional exposition.
Barrett-Brown started off by proclaiming they were a narcissist, and quickly moved from environmental politics to video games to love, gender and beyond. Their comedic stylings ranged vastly, from observational rants (people’s obsession with replicating Heath Ledger’s Joker impression) to personal storytelling (detailing the workings of the polyamorous breakup, and the art of re-gifting along a chain of partners). Between bits, Barrett-Brown would interact deftly with the audience, improvising casually rather than delivering conventional segues, and occasionally roasting audience members (for example, telling someone called Kyle that they had a “shit name”).
This reviewer personally loved moments where Barrett-Brown’s storytelling verged on the physical – their presence was commanding and their timing was great – as well as the engaging honesty that shone through well-written bits and improvised moments. The intimacy of the Cellar Theatre was bolstered by a twinkling backdrop of fairy lights and a sprawling thematic map of the show’s content. The audience was warm and open, which made for a cosy and comfortable comedy experience.
The rhythm did begin to skip and drop as the show went on due to lapses between thematic sections, as well as page-turning to locate specific content. The ode-to-Batman section perhaps dragged because of its sizeable nature and very particular comic niche. That being said, some of the biggest laughs emerged out of nowhere, from very specific personal territory – a recurring joke about Barrett-Brown’s environmental ‘activism’ because their room was painted green hit particularly hard, as did their self-realisation of hypocrisy in accusing Joker-impersonators of “liking the sound of their own voice” in the wake of their own proclaimed narcissism. An original poem about their fear of ageing and dying offered sobering insight nearing the end of the set.
shevvi, haha. the void served as a great springboard into the SUDS Summer Season and into the continuing presence of the unique comedic talent of Barrett-Brown on campus.