Comedy Funny Black Women on the Edge Theatre Royal, Stratford East, London

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
The first word of the title Funny Black Women on the Edge is the most enormous hostage to fortune for a comedy revue, but luckily the women lived up to their name. In performing sketches about everything from Aswad to absentee fathers, the five-strong team of Angie Le Mar, Sharon Campbell, Adele Johnson, Jo Martin and Yvette Rochester Duncan were greeted throughout with whoops of delight by a highly vociferous audience. One woman in the stalls got so carried away she shouted out, "You're the man", when Le Mar, the show's quite evidently female star and writer, walked on stage after the interval.

There is a great tradition of black revue at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East; Philip Hedley, the theatre's artistic director, calls it his "Alan Ayckbourn", a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. While there was nothing Ayckbourn- esque about the often blue language, the show raised more than enough laughs to do the tradition proud.

The performers proved as adept at character-acting as comedy, playing gauche teenagers from Brockley and ferocious West Indian matriarchs with equal conviction. In an uproarious send-up of Stars in their Eyes, Johnson captured precisely the Thunderbirds walk and constipation-afflicted face of Tina Turner. In a courtroom sketch, Martin made an uncannily plausible feckless father, grabbing his crotch defensively as a judge urged him to take more responsibility for his children. When "he" was ordered to swap his BMW for a Lada in order to pay maintenance, he broke down in tears. This was typical of a show that managed to be political without being preachy. In by-play between scenes, the stage-hands kept being shooed off by Le Mar, so they exacted revenge by scrawling the graffiti "Angie is not funny" on a backdrop. Oh yes she is.

n To 25 Nov. Booking: 0181-534 0310