Canal Cafe Theatre, London – until 8 December 2019
Trauma, comedy and playfully adapted song lyrics are brought together by Amanda Broomell to create Mandy Picks A Husband, her solo show inspired by her own Instagram experiment. Unafraid to get personal, we journey through Mandy’s romantic history, as Broomell shares her story with a disarming and engaging candour.
On second thoughts ‘romantic’ is the wrong word, with Mandy’s experiences spanning childhood sexual abuse, excessive alcohol consumption, body image issues and self loathing. However, despite some of the weightier subject matter covered, Broomell keeps the tone light-hearted and humorous throughout. A true survivor, she can find the funny in many of her darkest experiences, as well as the many techniques and therapies she has tried to help with her recovery.
Mandy, or in post reinvention times Amanda, is a charming and likeable raconteur. The 60 minutes fly by as she shares her many and varied experiences, taking the opportunity to burst into song on a pretty regular basis. What interests me about both the tone of the piece, and where Amanda seems to be on her own personal journey, is that while she shines a spotlight on her experiences, shadows still obscure the darkest moments.
Creatively this avoids making the show too gruelling or triggering, but it also speaks to the very genuine response survivors can have to traumatic events. It reminds us that while this is an entertaining story, it is based on something personal, true and damaging.
Like so many of us, Mandy is a work-in-progress. This show is NOT a how-to-guide, so for those women out there hoping to walk away with some top husband-hunting tips, this is not the show for you. Broomell refers to it as a ‘traumedy’ and that portmanteau fits this show like a glove. She is using comedy to air and cleanse her trauma. Maybe this will prove more effective than all those years of therapy. Regardless, it certainly provides an entertaining evening for those audiences who have chosen to join her on this part of her journey.
So does Mandy ultimately pick a husband? Is this a show with a fairytale ending? Well, if you want to find out you need to head to the Canal Cafe Theatre to watch ‘Mandy Picks a Husband’ and you have until Sunday 8th December to do it!