There are few people who can stand onstage in a donkey costume and deliver a solid hour of comedy about the shoddy lot of women without alienating their audience.
In fact I’ll go as far as to say there’s no one else who could do it. As one-of-a-kinds go, Bridget Christie is pretty damn fantastic.
This is a show that is absolutely silly and at the same time 100% serious. Donkeys (women!) have been overlooked and misrepresented for bloody years, in war, on the comedy stage, and in life in general.
Even other donkeys don’t think other donkeys are funny. Christie sets out to address this with at least one inflatable ballerina suit and a relentless flip-flop between sheer laugh-out loud ridiculousness and sophisticated social satire.
It’s hard in a prosaic review to convey the unassuming charm of her stage presence, or the deftness with which she juggles her material. To praise a comic as likeable seems condescending and perhaps beside the point – but for Christie there’s no other way to put it: she is the most affable person you could hope to make the lowdown on the modern terrain as humorous as it is horrifying. Never snide, nasty, or aggressive, but never simpering or saccharine either: she delivers a hearty thwack of social commentary with far less ranting ego than many of her stand-up colleagues, male or female.
The use of an animal persona is not new for Christie (she has been A Ant before to illustrate similar gender political points) – but this should not detract from an audience’s enjoyment of War Donkey. It’s the element of silliness that carries us through. The refurbished Assembly Rooms are a staid, uninspiring venue – but that’s nothing that can’t be remedied with a bit of simulated flatulence across the tannoy announcement.
It did take me a while to fully settle into the tone, but by the end I was convinced that there is no better advocate for the plight of the donkey, comedic or otherwise, than Ms Christie.
You will leave this show feeling as uplifted as you are outraged – like you’ve got your money’s worth, but also like you want to go and let off in the Andy McNab section of Waterstones.