Alice Fraser’s Savage doesn’t feel like a comedy show at the start or at the end, but in the middle you laugh and laugh, and you fall a little in love with this quick, honest, heartfelt Australian woman. She’s written her broken heart into a “comedy” show that she now performs every night for the entertainment of strangers, and it feels heroic.
Savage wasn’t meant to be a show about loss – it was meant to be a crazy, mad caper with slapstick and banjos and silly accents. Fraser has kept a few absurd elements, but the heart of Savage is her mother, who suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for 33 years, and passed away not long before the show opened. At times it felt like a form of comedy therapy for her, and for us, but it was also a deeply amusing and honest examination of how we deal with the unfathomable, the awkward, the painful, and the devastating aspects of life.
Fraser is a storyteller, one that’s not afraid to bare her soul to a crowd. You can’t help but be charmed by her, and to feel for her, which is part of the reason I was absolutely decimated by Savage – blubbering in the car park afterwards, a right mess. If you’ve lost someone (or are in the process of losing someone) to a slow, debilitating, dignity-stealing illness, then this show may be a grief trigger for you. It certainly was for me. I think I would have held it together if she hadn’t stood at the door and hugged each member of the audience as we left, that tipped me over the edge.
Savage is heavy, but it isn’t this heavy for everyone, I imagine. There is so much to laugh at – from Ted talks to art therapy classes, to social faux-pas and feeling inadequate. It is a brilliant comedy show, but it’s so much more, and that’s what made it special and unforgettable for me. If you like performances that turns you inside out, shows that leave you a little broken but very alive, then you should go and see Savage. It’s wonderful, and so is Alice Fraser.
Savage is playing at The Basement from 3-7 May. Get tickets >>
R&R: response and recommendation. We only write about shows we’d happily recommend to friends, because, let’s face it, you’re probably one of our friends.