Review: Amayonnaise

9 October 2018

★★★★★

The anticipation for this rollicking comedy was palpable before the show even started. Completely sold out for its one-night only performance, throngs of eager spectators descended upon the Corpus Playroom; a room of people already bound together in their shared excitement. From the outset, expectations were high and the atmosphere electric. Holman’s mere entry provoked rapturous applause and cheers and we all knew we were in for something truly special.

Holman takes us through a colourful romp of her life and times, spanning across a huge range of topics: family, childhood, university, adulthood, dating, and dipping into some serious issues too, including feminism and mental health, all tackled with a humorous charm and poignancy, highlighting her comic skill on all fronts. Her use of the space was effective and engaging, with minimal props – a chaise lounge, power-point slides, and, of course, mayonnaise (from sachets dangling along the walls in makeshift bunting to a jar which she playfully handles throughout). Her humour is vivid enough to conjure up imaginative scenes before us and her command of the stage, as she waltzes to and fro, conversational with the audience, never wavered.

There is much for the average Cambridge student to relate to in Holman’s comic look at studying here; as an English student myself, her lyrics "I hate writing essays about Chaucer, when there’s not enough sherbet in my flying saucer" were a personal favourite. Nor is she afraid to tackle the sheer absurdism of pedagogic academia; when she imagines her future offspring bemoaning their malnutrition, Holman retaliates with brisk wit that she is ‘queering the social conventions of motherhood’.

Alongside her sparkling personal anecdotes, time is taken to comment on the lack of sexual education for women, and the tendency of some men to avoid the term ‘feminist’. As she strums on her ukulele in an amusing musical tirade against a certain Buzzfeed writer who deservedly incited her wrath, she croons "he’s an egalitarian, bro; he’s not a feminist, no", and sighs "he just doesn’t get the suffra-gist" – just one example of the delightful word-play by which all her lyrics are punctuated.

In a brief diversion from the light-hearted humour of the majority of the show, she touchingly departs to a conversation on mental health, the importance of communicating with friends, and recognising progress in recovery. Here a noticeable shift occurs and, where she began the production with a song on everything she loathed (which ended with a 10/10 photoshop of her unimpressed face plastered over a rainbow), in the final song she sings of the things she loves, ending with her smiling beside the rainbow. We are likewise encouraged to relish the things we love, a beautifully wholesome end to a show which also acknowledges that it’s ok to find joy in disliking things, from "hundreds of years of colonial atrocity" to "Piers Morgan’s Twitter". More importantly, joy can be found in the bizarre eccentricities of human existence, whether it’s in an adoration of mayonnaise, or anything else.

I count myself incredibly lucky to have been among the lucky few witnessing this one-night rallying cry, for students and feminists, for online daters, family navigators, mayonnaise lovers, and anyone who likes a good laugh. I look forward to seeing Holman in action again, and being among an audience so uniquely supportive of someone onstage. The spirit of the evening was perhaps best captured by the resounding cheer I heard all the way up King’s Parade as Holman stepped out into the street, throngs of admirers lingering to sing her praise. She is indeed worthy of it.