Bridget Christie: Housewife Surrealist ★★★★★
Written by Marissa Burgess in Chortle on August 25th, 2011
Bridget Christie got me from the very beginning when she ran into the room, dressed as a bishop with hairy monkey hands, danced about to a ska version of the Dr Who theme, threw crackers/communion wafers about and then ate a banana.
If you didn’t go for this then you were probably going to struggle for the next hour… but really, what’s not to like?
Anyone who’s seen any of Christie’s previous Fringe shows will know this is not an atypical opening for her. And if you haven’t, surely the title Housewife Surrealist should have provided some clue. She performed last year as ‘an ant’ and previous years have seen her getting the dressing up box out to perform as Charles II and The Plague. It’s all been to great acclaim and award nominations. And rightly so, Christie’s work is insightful, intelligent and absurd in equal measure. Housewife Surrealist is no exception.
The theme this year is Christie’s Irish Catholic upbringing and living with her grumpy atheist husband. Rather than knocking her upbringing and religion (directly at least) Christie is here to celebrate the parts she likes, mainly the showy bits. After all, why would she dislike her religion when her priest perfectly fit the guidelines of ‘Irish, alcoholic and not a paedo’.
There are so much to highlight as Christie teasingly plays about with the religion versus evolution argument that so many comics tackle – but to spoil the experience of seeing this show for yourself would be sacrilege. Without giving away the gags, a routine about her young son playing with the door of the shower/magic portal as an analogy about faith is superb, as is her hiding her Isaac Newton collection up a tree away from her Catholic parents. Elsewhere the routine about sending her son to Catholic school nicely punctures the hypocrisies of choosing schools.
Jesus himself makes a couple of appearances, one apparently possessed by the spirit of Rod Hull’s Emu and the other in a recreation of the Ascension, which manages to be delicately beautiful and chest-achingly funny at the same time.
There’s a wonderfully anarchic, flying-by-the-seat-of-her-cassock quality to Christie. All the best and most innovative comedians split a room and she’s no exception. She prods away at the audience aware that some of them are sat utterly bemused while the rest of us are crying with laughter. At one point she gleefully chides, ‘That was a joke about transubstantiation! C’mon!”
It’s not usually relevant to mention who a comedian’s partner is in a review but it adds an extra layer to the humour of Christie’s portrayal of her fictional on-stage husband when you’re aware that it’s Stewart Lee, nemesis of the religious right. She is fast joining him in the list of must-see Fringe experiences, if you’re seeking a true blast of sheer invention.