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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Brian Logan

Lara Ricote review – endearingly offbeat comedy of self-exploration

Lara Ricote in Little Tiny Wet Show (baptism) at Soho theatre, London.
Dotty goings-on … Lara Ricote in Little Tiny Wet Show (baptism) at Soho theatre, London. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

There’s a formula for a comedian’s first show, and it’s “this is me”: an hour about who they are and where they come from. Lara Ricote aced it with her 2022 debut GRL/LATNX/DEF, which won her best newcomer award at the Edinburgh fringe. But what comes next once the introductions have been made? In this case, it’s a show about Ricote’s relationships – with her boyfriend, with her audience, and with the compulsions and complexities that can get in the way of both.

It’s not the first time a comic has compared the performer-audience interaction to a real-world relationship, but Ricote takes it further, and more quirkily, than most. She endows us with a name; she asks that we make her laugh, not just vice versa. All of this, seemingly, is by way of necessary practice for our host, a relationship ingenue, she tells us, who off stage is playing catchup with her more experienced other half. There’s talk of couples therapy, and of Ricote’s mixed feelings that this “first adult relationship” might be the only one she ever has.

Ricote at Soho theatre.
Lovable … Ricote at Soho theatre. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

There’s a story here, then, and a knotty one – but it never quite comes into focus behind the dotty goings-on in the foreground, whether that’s Ricote singing a gibberish cover version of Let It Be, impersonating her own farts, or staging the ambush of her gig by – well, I won’t spoil that one. Big laughs derive from her counsellor’s catch-all explanation for Ricote’s grown-up dysfunction, and there’s a captivating anecdote about a dog purchase that miscarries.

But what are we to make of the 27-year-old cultivating her caring instincts by adopting a bloodthirsty tick? Or of the shaggy dog story about sexual roleplay that devolves into an argument about visas? Endearingly offbeat? Certainly – with her cartoon voice and screwy demeanour, Ricote is nothing if not lovable. But I left feeling that some truths here were more obscured than revealed by those stories, by the audience/boyfriend parallels, and indeed by Ricote’s closing homily about the centrality of relationships. It’s a winning sophomore set, but there’s something evasive about it.

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