Battersea Arts Centre, London – until 15 July 2021
As her latest show further proves, Lucy McCormick is a queen of pop culture critique. Embodying her alter ego Lucy Muck, she debuts as a pop star but not one with the spit and polish of a music video. Instead she embraces an aesthetics of failure in both her design and dramaturgy. DIY costumes, gunge and water combine with her character’s emotional vulnerability to interrogate the high shine of celebrity and expectations of a music icon in this absurd and often poignant gig.
McCormick’s powerful singing voice and her trademark absurd comedy give the show energy and pointedly contrast Lucy Muck’s lack of experience and confidence as a performer. There are moments where the fragile exterior cracks and there’s an urge to give her a cuddle. Then suddenly she’s writhing around under a shower or scaling scaffolding whilst belting out a power ballad, and the power of her presence is overwhelming.
This volatility is in turn surprising, compelling and keeps the audience on their back foot. It publicises the private turmoil that results from the pressure to be perfect that likely many of us are familiar with, and remind us that the expectations we have for our idols are unrealistic.
She is accompanied by her band (Dave Page and Chloe Rianna) and production assistant/stage manager/fellow performer Morven Mulgrew, who are a calming force amidst Lucy Muck’s chaos and unpredictability. The calmly support and enable the mess and Lucy Muck makes, and otherwise carry on with their roles. This additional juxtaposition enriches the experience further.
This show is more tame than McCormick’s previous work – she stays more clothed than usual and due to health and safety she does not make any physical contact with audience members. But it is no less a powerful social commentary that prompts rethinking on the expectations we have of those in the spotlight.