The opening night of Chameleon was a triumph. It was a joy to see what a heartfelt piece of comedy the playful, ridiculous and incisive mind of Ash Weir had concoted, with a range of material and injections of true sincerity. We follow her as she balances her extraordinary capacity for physical comedy with sharp stand- up and inventive musical theatre. Indeed, it was in these elements of musical theatre that Chameleon really excelled.
Weir has an awesome power to entertain. Her absurd topics were a total joy – a love song to a cannibal and a number all about how much her ex- boyfriend was too much like bread were my personal highlights. And yet all of this ridiculousness was brought back to a sincere and unfeigned message about coping with identity and self- doubt; Chameleon really lived up to its name. Weir focused on the problem of one’s personality shifting according to circumstances, something everyone can empathise with, and in response offered an affirming portrayal of identity as confusing and kaleidoscopic, but true in all of its forms.
Weir’s honesty meant that the audience felt confided in, and touched to be welcomed into her emotional processes. Her exploration of identity was furthered by the cameo appearances of other Cambridge comedy favourites; ‘This may be a one woman show, but I am not just one woman’ was her moving explanation. Without giving too much away, John Tothill’s piano accompaniment and Ruby Keane’s Avril Lavigne rendition were gloriously executed, Natalie Jobbins’ timid cannibal and Henry Wilkinson’s surprise drag number were hilarious and Kate Collins’ appearance as Wier’s doppelganger was charming and original.
The whole show was so well composed that we moved seamlessly between these cameos, with Weir managing to expertly hold the stage herself. Ash Weir seems to me a true performer, straddling all facets of comedy to create an original, personal and hugely successful show. Not only will you leave Chameleon thoroughly entertained, but also feeling assured and inspired – like a nice big comedic hug.