Katherine Ryan offers a hilarious insight into her life as a single, working mum in her new show GLITTER ROOM
It’s rare, but it happens, sometimes the warm-up act is just as good as the headliner. Whilst waiting for Katherine Ryan to take to the stage at The Lowry, we were treated to a short but intensely funny set by Alison Smith, a fellow Canadian and old time friend of Ryan’s, who now lives in Manchester.
From the off, Smith connected with the audience, explaining that she’s no fool and although she lives in and loves Manchester, she’s very aware she’s crossed the street and that she is now in Salford. Her welcome to life in Manchester was a wistfully romantic mugging that took place a week after she arrived whereby the mugger snatched her bag, bumping her and shouting “sorry love”. Smith, unaware that everyone in Manchester refers to each other as love, takes this as an amorous advance: “Call me! You have my number, it’s in my phone, under Me!” She also jokes about life back in Canada, her overtly sexual lush of a mother, moving over the pond to Wythenshawe and initially being unable to score weed, all of which has the audience in fits. Her excruciating interpretation of male exotic dancers is equally hilarious. Did I go home and Google upcoming gigs by the lady? I surely did!
With the warm-up set lasting only 30 minutes, I’m not sure why we then had a 25-minute interval as we were all ready the main act. When Ryan did grace the stage, however, it was worth the wait if not just to witness her fashion alone. Donning a white t-shirt with the words ‘Daddy’ emblazoned across the chest in baby pink, Ryan’s outfit may not sound outrageous but it was her pink glitter vagina pants that were the star attraction – which, quite frankly, you can’t unsee – and which Ryan was wearing literally as a feminism as a badge of honour.
Oozing confidence and sass, Ryan jumps straight into the topic of the show – life as a singleton. While this certainly isn’t a new topic for comedy, Ryan succeeds in sculpting a very clever show around the subject, walking us through how her life as a ‘Single Mom’ in London is made up. GLITTER ROOM is a reference to a real room in Ryan’s newly acquired flat in which her very British and fancy daughter Violet resides. Ryan explains that she’s completely taken herself ‘out of the game’ explaining that “men are like dolphins – best enjoyed on holiday; you wouldn’t want one in the house!” She’s bad, bad, BAD at dating, unable to make a man her priority and is quite alright with the fact. She’s fiercely independent and quite able to finance her own life these days, unlike the Victorian poor existence she and Violet existed in when she first moved here. She’s also, very obviously, politically left-leaning which makes it all the funnier when daughter Violet comes home exclaiming “all these people are coming into MY country and taking all the jobs and everything else, there will be nothing left for ME!” The realisation: “I’VE RAISED A TORY!”
All the Violet material is performed very well by Ryan. Here we are introduced to Ryan’s arch nemesis Jane from the school run and PTA. Jane has spat out seven kids to Ryan’s one and has nothing but time to make Ryan feel like her mothering skills are below par, selling her contributions for 10p at the bake sale. Her eldest child is also a mean kid, bullying Violet to the point where Ryan’s revenge plot was to take Jane’s husband off her by weaponizing her vagina and making sure all seven of her kids spent every other weekend on the M25 and had two Christmases.
Ryan’s comedy is also relevant and on topic. She rips into the current First Lady Melania Trump, who she says “knows less English now than when she met him” and that explains where she went wrong was when she went for him when he was too young. She also does a bit on the Kardashians, involving a poor man from the audience who was attending the gig with his wife and daughter, by asking whether he likes the Kardashian clan. When he replies that he doesn’t, Ryan proceeds to ask him if he’s intimidated by “all that ass” and then refers to him at various points throughout the rest of the gig as “Assman!”
It is here that Ryan’s participation with the audience comes into its own. Having taken a genealogy test recently, Ryan asks the audience if anyone has also done this, cue audience member Michael who announces he has and that he’s 98% Irish. “That’s high 90’s, that’s a percent off flinging crap at the walls! You sure?” asks Ryan. Like a flash “Sure to be sure!” replies Michael, interactive heckling at its finest. Ryan replies “My family is from Ireland too, the test proved I’m 94% Irish myself”. “Low 90’s then!” Michael rebuffs. “You’d have to have sex with the Blarney Stone itself to get more Irish, Michael!” she retorts.
With so much audience participation, as well as references to Smith’s warm-up in which she interjects various characters from Smith’s act into her own, you’d be forgiven for thinking Ryan’s gig is improvised. Before you know it, however, the hour is over and its time to go home. Smart, sassy and super funny, Katherine Ryan’s GLITTER ROOM is a feel-good feminist tour that’s not just for the ladies!
Katherine Ryan GLITTER ROOM performed at The Lowry on 22 March and is on tour nationally until 14 April 2018.
Lola Maguire leases cars by day and has evolved to live off movies, books, gin and sarcasm; probably the best cheese eater in the world. Guitarist and singer in a band, co-creator of two kids, currently writes for Frankly My Dear.