Written by: Laura Piccinin
Ivy Bar and Cabaret, 24th Feb 2023
Reviewed by: Stanford Reynolds
Friday night at Ivy Bar, and the crowd is instantly on Laura Piccinin’s side as she begins to recount her coming out stories. Her wry, ironic delivery coupled with moments of expressive physicality get big, satisfying laughs from the audience along with enthusiastic whoops and cheers. The venue is intimate enough that there is opportunity for Piccinin to engage with us on an individual level, furthering our sense of familiarity and inclusion with her experiences.
Many parts of her show have broad relatability, and the listeners are just as likely to be nodding along as they laugh. Piccinin has dated both men and women, and knowingly tells us that “men are stupid, and women are insane”. This is one of many quips that have the audience roaring with laughter as she explains the experiences that have informed this oversimplified reasoning of hers. Piccinin also takes the opportunity to explain identities that exist between and outside the gender binary and their personal exploration of this, one of many satisfying moments where the audience feels seen; the room is welcoming and cosy for everyone along the sexuality and gender spectrums.
The social commentary that is mixed in is also witty and acute, covering ideas like the changing nature of what it means to be queer as society becomes more welcoming, but how the feelings of shame and guilt can linger – only making us feel more shameful and guilty for not being able to let go. Ultimately, this is a tale about learning to love oneself, despite all the confusion caused by the reactions of our loved ones, and the myriad of labels that can feel prescribed. Piccinin asks why queer people have to bear the responsibility of explaining and quantifying queerness – let straight people work it out, she says, and stop feeling an obligation to “come out”.
Piccinin doesn’t claim to have all the answers, and acknowledges personal slip-ups and confusion in her journey. It is this unabashed honesty that is so endearing about her performance.