Luisa Omielan


Perth Concert Hall
28th October 2017

Material: four-stars.png  Delivery:  five-stars.png  Laughs: four-stars.png

There’s been a change to Luisa Omielan’s comedy routine lately. This was a very different show to the riotous celebration of being a real woman that got 47 million hits on YouTube (just type in “thigh gap joke”) and a TV special on the Beeb last May. Instead, a no-frills Luisa, alone on stage, draws her audience around her and shares her recent experience of her mother’s sharp decline and death after being diagnosed with stage 4 stomach and bowel cancer. And the audience laughed and wept and laughed every step of the journey with her.

The show is at the same time a wistfully funny tribute to a remarkable, strong and huge-hearted mother and a catalogue of medical care blunders and hands-tied-behind-backs bureaucratic buffoonery that Omielan recounts with still raw and righteous anger. It’s also a plea for a more compassionate approach to end-of-life care.

Luisa is at her funniest when celebrating the embarrassing stuff of our shared experience that the rest of us don’t have the nerve to say out loud. Now, she’s just as punchy, just as daring and delivers with an honesty and directness that may leave you uncomfortably watching a woman unravel emotionally one moment and laughing lustily at a fart joke the next.

Most of us will be affected by cancer, directly or indirectly. Not everyone will have an opportunity to tell their story of its effect on their lives. Luisa’s keenly honest comedy is a powerful advocate for a more humane, compassionate treatment for those facing the diagnosis of a terminal illness. Proceeds from her shows are going to Helena’s Hospice Foundation, which Luisa has founded in remembrance of her mother, with the aim of enriching hospice care for the terminally ill.

Don’t expect viral-worthy aphorisms for the twitterverse here. This kind of “real-life comedy” may be too much “real-life” for some. But, if you stay with Luisa as she tells her story, be comforted by this reminder that there are everyday heroes out there, and thank basic human goodness that Luisa has a chance to let us laugh, cry and shout about it.

Reviewer : Mark Mackenzie


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