Review by Laura Heuston
Everyone, we messed up. We took too long and Jacinta Gregory has been forced to throw her own intervention. What we thought was a comedy show is actually a time for the airing of grievances and the beginning of a long journey towards recovery; except, we’re not the ones sending Jacinta down this road. She is taking herself and we are all along for the ride, along with her therapist Marie (Orya Golowsky), some figures from her past (Rosiey Rodrigues), and a special surprise celebrity appearance.
Upon entry to the Red Rattler, we are greeted by massive, bright balloons spelling INTERVENTION. And this sets the absolute tenor for the rest of the night. We will be dealing with hard things, in a larger-than-life, neon, shiny way. Songs, drag, and prop comedy all feature alongside the standup, which is of course itself hilarious even while tackling issues of mental health and homophobia. The sheer breadth of comedy skill cannot be overstated here, as Jacinta transitions relatively seamlessly between different comedic forms consistently throughout the hour. She is as comfortable ad-libing with an audience member as she is in drag, and the confidence that underlies the ability to speak on such matters means that the audience is relaxed from the outset.
And what of this difficult content? In classic Jacinta style, we are exploring mental health for the majority of the show. And this clearly has the potential, in the hands of a lesser comedian, to be quite depressing. And as Jacinta points out, Hannah Gadsby has reminded us all that stand up comedy doesn’t actually have to be… you know… funny. But not to worry. While taking a couple of notes from the Aussie Queen of Cry/Laughing, Jacinta maintains her originality and brightness in the way that only she can…
Through the power of song! All the tunes Gregory originals, with co-writer Nick Harriott helping provide us with multiple new pieces and one revamped classic (not to worry long time fans, Sexy Way is still in the repertoire). Accompanied by Jeremy Kindl on the piano, Bouey Bouhabib on guitar and Margot Roberts on violin, Jacinta is able to showcase her stunning voice and lyric writing ability to the max here. A particular highlight was her appearance as her younger self, to duet with Rosiey Rodrigues, who plays her “straight” best friend from church. The harmonies are adorable and so are the lyrics, as the two wish for boyfriends with all the qualities of the other, and definitely don’t catch feelings for each other. Heh. This is not to say the cuteness is the only point- but it is the way Jacinta is able to question not only religion but the general heteronormativity enforced on queer children in a manner that calls people in rather than out.
Jacinta Gregory has proved once again that mental health can be a laughing matter, in the hands of someone who understands it. Punching down has never been funny, but when presented with the absurdity of mental illness in a genuine and kind manner, audiences are able to enjoy the humour and (dare I say it) even find a little catharsis. One can only hope that comedians across the board start to treat their discussion of major issues with as much tongue-in-cheek but authentic care as Jacinta does in all her performances.