Lucy Beaumont: The Trouble & Strife! review – bottomless brunches and butlers in the buff | Comedy

Hull is my muse, says the writer of TV’s Hullraisers and Radio 4’s To Hull and Back. Would you be surprised to hear that Lucy Beaumont’s touring show The Trouble & Strife draws heavily on eccentric tales of Humberside life? Not that her audience is complaining: Beaumont does this stuff terrifically well, and this is a lovable 75 minutes about Mecca Bingo, Matalan and neighbours who’ve never had a raisin. But there’s something coy about it too, as if Hull isn’t just Beaumont’s muse, but her smokescreen.

What’s immediately conspicuous is Beaumont’s unconfident body language: she stands stock still throughout, as if trying to hide behind her mic stand. That’s of a piece with her amused but pained persona, every line delivered as if Beaumont is saying, “it’s shameful to tell you this, but I can’t resist.” Cue stories of “bottomless brunches” with her “mum friends”, a “butler in the buff” stunt gone wrong, and tales of her upbringing, where everyone had “either gangrene or a perm”.

There’s material too that draws on her marriage to comic Jon Richardson, as fictionalised in TV’s Meet the Richardsons (which Beaumont writes), and on rearing a middle-class daughter who struggles to decipher mum’s thick accent. None of this is adventurous; a PowerPoint tour of wacky news stories from the Hull Daily Mail (set to the tune of 12 Days of Christmas) is particularly fish-in-a-barrel.

But Beaumont undeniably has some cracking stories about the odd behaviour of her townsfolk, and she knows how to write a beautifully blunt punchline – such as the one that comes when, aged 40, she finds herself cat-called in the street.

The timid, scatty persona starts to feel evasive. At one point Beaumont describes herself as a “small angry woman”, and that’s tantalising to hear, because anger is absent from her comic worldview, all fretful amusement at her own dippiness, embarrassing poo stories and tales of northern eccentricity. I’d love to see Beaumont step out from behind the ditzy caricature. But until she does, this is a delightful tour of her foibles, and her home town’s too.

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