Current Issue #488

Fringe Review:
Steph Tisdell: Baby Beryl

Steph Tisdell owns up to being properly weird in this intimate hour of improvised comedy.

Steph Tisdell gives the impression that no matter what she’s currently doing, it could be summed up by the word “antics”. Her solo show at The Garden of Unearthly Delights is a hilarious, unpredictable peek into her shamelessly odd outlook on life. If you’re willing to share your weirdest habit in front of a live audience (or just dob in a mate), Steph Tisdell “Baby Beryl” is the perfect confessional comedy experience.

Since winning Deadly Funny in 2014, Steph Tisdell’s career has taken off with sold out seasons at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Edinburgh Fringe and everywhere in between. Like Hannah Gadsby, she clearly recognises that true vulnerability is a powerful place to excavate comedy material and her authenticity on stage is remarkable.

Baby Beryl is supposed to be a show about finding the youngest Beryl in Australia. That didn’t pan out, but Tisdell has styled it out with an hour of improvised comedy exploring the lengths we go to just to open up to each other. It is a wholesome concept that works because Tisdell is willing to perform off-the-cuff and encourages the audience to be present with her as she does. The result is a raucous, intimate, unpredictable time that is guaranteed to be a different experience each night.

Tisdell’s energy is infectious as she shares her latest mishaps. She embraces her weirdness without shame and it’s a relief to see a comedian who isn’t trying to look cool. It is rare to come across a performer who can so effortlessly break down the distance between herself and the audience. And what’s most impressive is that she does this on the fly. 

Tisdell isn’t aiming for the tight story-telling and formulaic beats of other comedians, and what she delivers is loose and authentic fun. She’s an accomplished performer pushing comedy towards something more authentic and relatable.

This is a space where everyone can get involved without it being daunting. The cosy venue adds to the sense of community, to the point that Baby Beryl feels almost like hanging out with a group of friends.

Steph Tisdell “Baby Beryl” was performed at Spare Room at The Garden of Unearthly Delights and continues until March 1

Jess Martin

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