With the look of Sarah Hadland and a musical comedy act akin to Victoria Wood, Tamar Broadbent is a real pocket rocket. She would either hate the anti-feminist connotation that this phrase has (being used almost exclusively in reference to women), or appreciate the comparison to a high energy, necessary accessory that no woman should be without (who needs men when you have a more reliable, battery-powered alternative). Either way, her inventive yet honest songs paint an uplifting picture of positive body image and female solidarity. Relaxed, confident and smiling throughout her whole set, Broadbent knows who she is and is happy with that; she reminds us all that we should be happy with ourselves, too.
The greatest thing about the routine (apart from making the audience laugh and cheer along) is that there is a story to the comedy. ‘Everyone’s a prick in London’ is more than apt. Broadbent’s annoyance at her life, full of First World problems, is the catalyst she needs to do something to change it. So in typical middle class white girl fashion, she backpacks around Australia. On her travels she discovers the following: ‘It’s hard to be a beach babe’ – the Home and Away fantasy of the sexy, tanned blonde look doesn’t pan out; she shares a name with an Arab man; wombats are the deadliest of creatures; it is a mistake to train for a half marathon straight after drinking a cappuccino (this particular song was a favourite of mine, in my head I could see it being in a Disney parody); and everyone has wobbly bits, so if we all got naked together at a cabaret show then no-one would care about yours.
Broadbent also reminisces about growing up as a typically awkward teenage girl. A bit of audience participation sees her singing a song to her younger self about loving your body as it is. In this case the audience member picked to resemble young Broadbent is a shy, hairy man called Daniel, but despite his initial misgivings he performs rather well throughout the song and seems thoroughly empowered by the end. Her song ‘I don’t care who you are as long as you as love me’ takes a shot at manufactured boybands such as The Backstreet Boys and One Direction, both of whom tell teenage girls that to be desirable one must conform to a specific mould. But not Broadbent, who throws away any insecurities and weaknesses when she decides that “pussy means weak but how strong are our vaginas! Whereas if you forcibly flick a foreskin…” and so gets everyone in the audience to chant ‘cunt’ like some sort of tribe or cult shouting out its motto to the world.
Her final song says it all, ‘You don’t have to go that far from yourself to be a superhero’. If we are all superheroes, then she is the leader of the pack.
Brave New Girl plays at Cowgatehead (venue 32) until August 29 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Fringe website.