***1/2 (out of 5)
Laura Davis is thrilled to be back at the Fringe, even if she’s no longer a current visa holder to live in the U.K. She gave that up during the pandemic, which found her temporarily stranded. Davis had just begun a global tour in March 2020, hurriedly found refuge in New Zealand thanks to her mother-in-law, then in the opposite of a rush, spent most of the following 14 months living alone in the woods. Talk about social distancing. All that alone time changes a person, Davis admits, and it’s also got her reckoning with how governments and societies view the arts, how the media views the Fringe, and where she fits into it all. If she still fits.
Davis wonders about the push-pull of the Fringe, expecting your show to say something of value, and criticizing you if you fail to mention whatever topic they value most of all. She has no delusions about the irony in people debating whether shit on canvas counts as art, while trying to convince us that our shitty lives are still great, nor about the irony in how gender continues to play a role in our critical discussions. If she were a man, then she as he might be considered a brilliant satirist; as a woman, she’s considered loud and bitter. But then again, as a woman in comedy, she has spent 15 years hearing audiences demanding to see her tit. Are you happy now?
Davis does have plenty to say about the world at large, too. Trying and failing to take sense into a conspiracy theorist in a sauna, well that’s as fine a metaphor for a heated debate inside a box about everything outside of the box. And while we have so many problems that need solving here on Earth, billionaires are shooting themselves into the void of space. Davis not only pinpoints their moral dilemma, but also offers a sensible solution for us and them.
Laura Davis: If This Is It runs through Aug. 28, 2022, at Monkey Barrel (Carnivore).