REVIEW: A stand-up’s search for a place to call home

Lucy Porter: Northern Soul, The Hawth, Crawley, Tuesday, January 14

Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in?

Many people experience this sensation in their teens, which motivates them to search for acceptance from a specific group or subculture.

Lucy Porter’s Northern Soul has an interesting true-life take on this phenomenon, as the pint-sized mother-of-two talks about finding her spiritual home in the north of the UK.

The new stand-up show, like Lucy’s previous creation, People Person, is delivered in her enjoyable style – optimistic, quick-fire, yet analytical and tinged with an amusing sense of the grubby and downright rude aspects of life.

The first half consists of a getting-to-know-you session, in which Lucy chats to the audience and cracks jokes about her home-life. Her observations about her husband are particularly funny, especially her recollection of their wedding. Seeing as her husband is dramatically taller than she is, Lucy confesses that she got married for the most hilarious wedding pictures around.

Lucy also uses the first half to set up the emotional idea behind her show, talking about feeling alienated from her hometown of Croydon and her father’s home of Northern Ireland when she was younger.

She describes the appeal of the north and her fear that living in London had made her snobbish and had left her cut off from outside concerns.

She also describes falling in love with music of The Smiths and becoming a convinced socialist. It all sounds a bit too philosophical and political but Lucy’s reflections on her teenage outlook (and adolescent naivety) are delivered with plenty of amusing asides and self-deprecating humour.

For example, she describes trying to convince her parents of the ‘evils’ of capitalism while encouraging them to “make for the barricades.”

Her mother simply responds: “You couldn’t see over the barricades, Lucy.”

Her observations about fancying miserable men (like Morrissey) get a good response too, especially when joking about her husband, who she loves for his alleged misery. “The longer we’re married, the more miserable he gets,” she quips. “It’s a gift that keeps on giving.”

In the second half, Lucy looks at the reality of actually living in the north – first at university, then while working for Granada Television. Her tale of being burgled about a dozen times is related in a cheerily matter-of-fact tone.

Lucy also recalls her cringeworthy attempts at pretending to be from Manchester, which fall apart immediately under not-so-close inspection from a local paper.

Overall, Northern Soul at The Hawth is a good show with some real laugh-out-loud moments. Sadly, the Hawth gig is lightly attended because of some rescheduling, but Lucy takes the audience on an engaging journey through adolescent and early twenty-something confusion with a surprisingly thoughtful message at the end.

Lucy Porter’s Northern Soul comes to The Capitol, Horsham, on Saturday, March 1.

By Lawrence Smith