Courtney Rose Brown
Dressed in a pink and blue floral gown, I find myself making assumptions about where the show will go. Frustrated at myself, I feel on the defensive, as I’m not prepared for another show that makes fun of fem women, as I’m overwhelmingly aware that I’m wearing a more chill version of her costume.
The stage is loosely set into three areas, a dining table covered with a checkered tablecloth, a vanity table with beauty tools, and a screen in the centre of the white Heydey Dome upstage wall, which is used sparingly for projection.
The show is like an extended stand up set with the occasional deviation in form. When Beuvink shifts the structure, it’s exciting. A crowd favourite falls under ‘the pressure to host’ segment and an audience member is pulled up to help make chicken liver pate, but on a budget and with a kiwi twist. Beuvink, shines in moments of improv. She’s sharp and easily incorporates audience interaction into the comedy. The cooking show charm clashes with the NZ accent and bogan culture, which has the audience giggling behind their hands in embarrassed moments of recognition. Everyone’s keen to get in on that goon.
Once audience interaction is introduced, I’m eager to see it again but this venture is a one-off. Each section of the stage, serves a purpose for one section of the show and isn’t revisited, a make-up tutorial, a presentation about cricket, and as quickly as it’s introduced, it drops away. I crave for more moments of theatricality. Beuvink’s sexy remix of ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ has the guy next to me nearly in tears and I’m sure will be stuck in everyone’s heads, because, wow, is it catchy.
There are great moments of surprise where her stories take unexpected turns. My favourite one is the tale of the ‘Seize the Day’ mug and I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s a revolutionary ‘how me and my bf met’ story. There’s also moments where the punchline is expected and jokes don’t quite land, but Beuvink will follow these up with extra lines of wit, which feels like she’s shaking up the structure of jokes.
Whenever sex or her vagina are mentioned, there are waves of surprised and curious giggles. At these moments, there is more comedy in how the audience reacts. Beuvink enters a monologue on being friendzoned, which is delightful, and about how much she loves boys with low self esteem. Her frankness about past lovers stumbling in the dark trying to find her clit, has the older man behind me choking on his laugh and the woman he’s with laugh more in recognition. It’s moments when different perspectives meet an understanding through her comedy that it sparkles.
I leave BATS thinking Ladylike: A Modern Guide to Etiquette is a pleasant and enjoyable show. It’s not trying to dismantle the patriarchy and there isn’t a need to approach it like that. It’s more of a contrast or comparison of tradition with current cultural norms. But as I am aggressively cat called on my way home, my opinion of the show changes. The fact that Beuvink is a female comedian breaking down female stereotypes is brave. In an audience of ranging genders and ages, she has challenged misconceptions (including in myself) and placed a focus on female sexuality and claiming that. Again, there’s pressure on female work to be the voice of all women. However, on that night, knowing that Louise had the stage,a sold out room, and that people were listening, was enough.