The Cool Mum is polished. It’s clear in the video editing, it’s clear in the scenographic budget and it’s clear in the structure. It opens as any good seminar should: with a summary of what’s to come, including bookended checks of the audience’s coolness levels (which projects the narrative from the start) and ending with a standing ovation. So much thought has gone into the construction of this show, and Ghastly strictly adheres to what she has set out. As a result, the show feels like it’s all technique and no punch. It’s really disappointing when the predicted standing ovation isn’t actually earned and the audience only stands at the end because they are cued to give a standing ovation by the slideshow. I’m left wondering why, because the skill is there, but it seems that the content isn’t. If I were reviewing the same show a few years ago, I think I would have loved it, but some of the references are just too outdated, like dabbing and ‘on fleek’. It seems like this might be the intention, to portray the mum who thinks she’s up-to-date but is really a few years behind, but some of the references have just been out of the zeitgeist for too long to still be accessible.
That said, I recognise that as a woman in her mid-20s, I’m not the target audience. The Cool Mum will be at its funniest for people who either have teenage children or are the teenage children, as they’re the ones who’ll really cringe at what the parody leans into. It’s just that the comedy is not timeless, and I think that in order for The Cool Mum to have a long lifespan, Ghastly needs to regularly update the terms she’s using. The strongest gag in the show is the mini nature documentary on teen breeding season, because while language is always evolving, teenage behaviour tends to remain the same, so it’s content that everyone in the audience can connect with.
The Cool Mum had a sold-out season at Cavern Club. For more information, or to book tickets for other shows in the festival, visit the Fringe website.