As the ADC overview of The Lobster of Never Letting Go so aptly puts it, Manon Lever is exactly like you. And she is: midway through an anecdote about the horrors of ab-initio languages and the sheer absurdity of German idioms, she stops to roll up her sleeve to the elbow, the entirety of her forearm covered in notes and scribbles. In a place as rife with impostor syndrome as Cambridge, it’s important to remember that we’re all winging it (My shopping list is scrawled across my right hand even as we speak. Case in point?) and remind ourselves not to get carried away by perfectionist ideals. Or as one might say in German, we ought to leave the church in the village.
A small space like the Corpus Playroom lent itself perfectly to the intimate nature of Manon’s performance, which was so universally relatable and flowed so naturally that it felt more like a catch-up session in a friend’s living room than a live performance that we’d be charged £7 to see. Using humorous, often Cambridge-specific situations as a springboard to discuss issues like mental health and self esteem, she managed to make it feel like she was talking to each member of the audience individually.
The more serious parts of her performance were arguably the most impactful: taking on a tone of voice almost reminiscent of spoken word poetry, Manon had total command over the room and left the audience with a lasting message. While she faltered or seemed slightly uncomfortable at a few points, she did acknowledge that she’s painfully shy offstage, making her performance all the more impressive and adding an extra layer of authenticity.
The Lobster of Never Letting Go gives voice to a myriad of experiences that we’ve all been through, whether we feel bold enough to discuss them or not. For some, that may be quoting Shakespeare at inappropriate times (I’m guilty of this as well, much to my chagrin) or writing poetry riddled with teen angst. For others, it’s contending with self-esteem issues and the desire for external validation.
Manon seamlessly intertwines self-aggrandisement and self-deprecation, lighthearted humour and raw honesty. It’s clear that The Lobster of Never Letting Go is more than comedy for comedy’s sake. Underlying all of her anecdotes–scatological, sexual, or otherwise–is an unmistakable thread of truth and vulnerability which hammers home the performance’s final message: seek help if you need it and support your friends who are struggling.
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