Since their inception last year, Major Labia have racked up a pretty impressive performance list. From their debut show on Nottingham Playhouse mainstage, no less, they’ve gone on to take their vaginal humour and tit tops to the Battersea Arts Centre, Hockley Hustle 2016 and the Leicester Curve. Last week, the three-woman troop returned to home turf, to perform a sell-out show as part of Nottingham Playhouse’s Playground Festival.
Graduates of the Television Workshop, Narisha Lawson, Gemma Caseley-Kirk and Phoebe Brown, under the watchful eye of director and Bristol Old Vic alumnus, Siobhàn Cannon-Brownlie, took to the Neville Studio stage in bright pink boiler suits; boob outlines as standard. Having fashioned sketches that put Nottingham’s women centre stage for a change, the audience were treated to comical re-imaginings of everyone from Maid Marion to Rebecca Adlington, Ada Lovelace to the Lace Market witch.
The collective was initially set up to challenge the notion that “women aren’t funny”, and the wickedly joke bunch have more than succeeded in their aims; grabbing the world of comedy by the balls and showing it who’s boss. Be it in Phoebe’s matchless embodiment of character, Gemma’s kooky physicality, or Narisha’s low-key one liners, them with the fannies are definitely bringing the funnies.
Sketch comedy can sometimes make me feel a bit on edge – there’s little room for manoeuvre where a punch line’s involved – but these purveyors of period puns have an on-stage chemistry that’s hard to come by, picking up from where the other left off with ease and bouncing off each other’s electricity.
Feminist sketch comedy sometimes runs the risk of being quite isolating to an audience; either taking on a mightier-than-thou tone, or relying on crude jokes that don’t necessarily sit right with everyone. Where Major Labia succeed is in bringing the audience in to the joke; often letting them work out the punchline before delivering. And while they don’t shy away from talk of vulvas and venereal diseases, it’s never pushed to the point of no return.
If this is where they’ve set the bar after just one year, we can’t wait to see ‘em in twelve months time...