‘I show up, with all these opinions’: Review: Katherine Ryan @ Plymouth Pavilions
Online Arts and Lit Editor, Ellie Cook, gauges ‘The Glitter Room’ and whether the anecdotes and stories left a sparkle in the audience’s eye.
The Glitter Room. Katherine Ryan’s tour certainly was aptly named. Striding onstage, shoes clicking to the rhythm of Barns Courtney’s Glitter and Gold, Ryan’s feverishly gold sequin dress flicked the spotlights back into the vast audience of Plymouth Pavilions. Against the twinkling dots of light fixed into the dark stage background, Ryan’s bold Canadian accent swirled from centre stage.
As Ryan explained, The Glitter Room is the name given to her daughter’s bedroom in their London home. Violet, her interjected opinions and Ryan’s experiences as her mother formed a significant proportion of the comedic material, flitting between culture clashes and the stereotypes of being a single mother. This personal flourish grounded Katherine Ryan to her sprawling audience, yet gave Ryan the ideal platform from which to launch her social critique with both comedic and individual attributes. Ryan has never shrouded nor tempered her distinctive feminist content, and this show was absolutely no exception.
Ryan unashamedly orientates the majority of her content around her life with her daughter, and, more specifically, what she calls the ‘stigma’ of single motherhood. Ryan does not merely remark on the subject: she lauds her single motherhood to the masses. Facing a world of people who become ‘really upset with you if you deviate from the type of lifestyle they want you to have’, she barrels through life with the question of ‘would my life upset and confuse Frank Sinatra?’ as the guiding standard. Her style is characteristically derisive, her material caked with a pointed sarcasm that acts as the main vehicle by which she crafts her comedic social critique. Discussing her last relationship, Ryan went to extensive lengths to denigrate the pervasive, antiquated female expectation to ‘just be, like, soft, and fresh like an avocado’, just as she did with the stereotypical cliché of feminine dependence on men: her voice could not have been more scornful as she imitated her ex-partner’s whine that ‘it was so hurtful to find out that you didn’t need me.’
witty, acerbic and personal stand-up performance
When referencing the gendered, societal double standards that women confront every day, Ryan was emphatic. She went to great lengths to point out, for instance that ‘men do not do the Revenge Body’, or are not expected to show their post-break-up worth by losing a bit of fat. I had never thought of it like this, but as Ryan finished this sentence, I sat slightly back in my chair. It is true. Whilst Khloe Kardashian squeezed a TV show out of ‘getting a little bit smaller’ in response to a break-up, this is never a standard exacted from men. The audience was collectively taken aback as Ryan dissected and rejected this idea as ‘the best we can do’. She was right. It is a sexist standard that is infused in our collective psyche. Ryan comprehensively and contemptuously derided all such norms, her argument proving both hilarious and compelling.
An anomaly of this particular gig, but Ryan faced a consistent heckling from one particular audience member. Initially positively receiving this interactive contribution, Ryan seemed dignified and receptive to her vocal audience member. However, as it continued- which was uncomfortable for every other member at the show- Ryan’s attitude inevitably unraveled to one of irritated dismissal. That being said, how she turned what could easily be seen as a disrespectful disruption into a droll tangent was a testament to her improvisation and ability to deal with not-so-complimentary interruptions.
Katherine Ryan delivered a witty, acerbic and personal stand-up performance that lived up to her reputation as female empowerment champion and biting social commentator. Her content was both intelligent and conversational, oscillating between the throwaway mention of the ‘We-Wear-Pink-On-Wednesdays kitchen’ and contemplating whether ‘my life be celebrated if I were a man?’ Wholly engaging, Katherine Ryan’s ‘The Glitter Room’ tour is sure to only consolidate her comedic status and fanbase.