Harriet Braine: Les Admirables

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Gilded Balloon at Old Tolbooth Market
Jul 1st – Aug 25 (18.00)

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


The Gilded Balloon at the Old Tolbooth Market had a welcoming feel as we climbed the stairs to the small space where “Harriet Braine – Les Admirables” was to be performed. Harriet introduced herself and her themes in a song packed show full of clever insights and intertwining jokes. An award-winning comic, Harriet not only looked back at her own career, but also brought into the limelight the lack of female representation in history. She was aided in this endeavor by her guitar and a small projector screen to illustrate the tales she would tell.

I found this an effective format, where Harriet would talk about her own past; telling us about school plays, university and her development as a writer, artist and musician – not to say the point she’s reached now in the field of stand-up. Along the way she touches on themes of feminism and her own struggles against ignorance, and illustrates these struggles using the lives of women figures from science that history seems to have forgotten or even shunned, often presenting these characters through her songs. I have to confess I’d never heard of them before (not that I’d admit that to her), but I suppose that illustrated the point! I found myself sympathising with her and appreciating the education that she brought to her performance.

Harriet’s interaction with the audience was intimate and daring. She kept us entertained and totally engaged with an enchanting mixture of humour and music and rhetoric. An accomplished musician, her songs spanned many different styles, as did the hcomedy  – at one point she had us in stitches when she placed cat faces on famous pictures making them look weird and drawing us ever further into her quirky world. She could be wholesome, she could be falling apart, she was a woman with something to say and her material was very strongly delivered with an individual and confident voice. Harriet Braine will entice you in, entertain you and enlighten you. You should go!

Daniel Donnelly

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