Review By Flora Norton
The Motley Bauhaus was bursting at the seams on Tuesday night for Olivia McLeod’s debut of her new show, Pash, which brought down the house and solidified her place on the Melbourne comedy scene. One-woman-show meets stand-up, Pash is a dramatized and choreographed monologue about the anxiety, insecurity, and embarrassment that are all synonymous with being in your early 20s.
While McLeod’s protagonist ‘Max’ is a 24-year-old, bisexual woman who has never been kissed, the subject matter is so broad, and so intricately and thoughtfully crafted that the show is entertaining to almost any demographic. Max takes us through the trials of trying to have a first kiss at 24, unpacking everything from dating apps, irritating men, and drunken decision making to sibling tensions, friendships, morality, and sexual assault.
While on one hand, Pash has all the ingredients of a stand-up comedy set, the physicality of McLeod’s performance, her use of props and her ability to seamlessly slide out of one character and into another, enables her to tell a story and elevates the performance to a whole new level of comedy. McLeod’s acting is engaged and energetic as she takes the audience with her on a journey that so many of us have been through ourselves, in one way or another. In one scene, McLeod is at an energetic Zumba class, enthusiastically contorting her body on the stage whilst dispassionately describing her best friend Maisie’s character flaws. In another, she is pressed up against the wall behind an invisible bookcase, describing evocatively how it feels to be kissed without consent, and the whole audience, tense and quiet, are right there behind the bookcase with her.
McLeod is witty, engaging, and warm, and her comedy is the sort that brings people together in the light of shared experience. Almost painfully relatable, Pash is the sort of show that made me inexplicably want to grasp the hand of the stranger beside me mid-laugh and share with them in the sheer hilarity and pungency of the punchlines. Pash is deeply funny, and the writing and performance are a showcase for McLeod’s undeniable and untapped talent. The show is a must-see at this year’s comedy festival for anyone in need of a laugh – I for one can’t wait to see what’s next from Olivia McLeod.