Words Sarah Kidd
Happiness, we all want it. But how do we truly achieve it? In an age where the number of Instagram followers seems to be the preferred barometer of self-worth, social media peddlers of ultimate euphoria flaunt their wares, each one claiming to hold the organic, vegan, ethically sourced answer…and you can have it too, if you just buy the book.
Enter Dr. Rhirhi, a divorced mother of two that woke up one morning and decided to re-invent her life into that of a self-made guru (actual qualifications not required when you just believe in it!) who churns out literary guides faster than it takes your home-made kombucha to ferment.
Rhiannon McCall has absolutely outdone herself with this rather physical comedy which drags the audience – at times reluctantly – into the world of Dr. Rhirhi and her latest book tour, which includes a comprehensive three-step program for fundamental happiness, complete with disturbing beauty regimes and a constant neurotic need for verbal validation.
Performing an entire stand-up routine based on a singular character takes guts; the risk being that audience members may not bond with the persona, which can result in a gradual death knell for a comedian who relies on audience participation to keep the flow of the show alive.
McCall is aware of this and works the room, leaving very little chance for the audience to ever become disinterested, the performance itself short and punchy, coming in at just forty minutes. Her character of Dr. Rhirhi is loud and brash and when she periodically crumbles under the weight of the reality of her own circumstances, McCall brilliantly takes her into overdrive; think Annette Benings meltdown scene in American Beauty but with an extra layer of cringe.
And it’s that cringe factor that plays out beautifully throughout the show, McCalls periodic overacting more a statement on how detrimentally unbalanced wearing these constant façades would be. The pointed and jabbing humour often working best as the crowds’ awkward discomfort increases.
Winner of the Best Actress Award in the 2017 48 Hour Film Competition, McCall puts both her skills and natural talent to good use under the directorship of Laura Daniel (Two Hearts), little touches of Daniels’ humour dotted throughout.
With a spectacular ending that is not for the faint of heart, the already impressive physicality of McCalls performance reaching a crescendo that made the entire audience recoil; Eat Slay Love is vivacious satire at its best.