Review: Libby McArthur, The F-Word, Vespbar, Glasgow

Glasgow International Comedy Festival

Libby McArthur: The F-Word

Reviewed by Mark Brown

Forget funny on Festival Friday. Instead, the opening night of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival offered River City star LibbyMcArthur’s execrable alliterative monologue The F-Word; which alights upon a series of matters relating to life for women in “the F-zone”, i.e. one’s forties and fifties.

Imagine, if you will, a character from Tony Roper’s nostalgia fest The Steamie, crossed with Maw Broon (matriarch of our other national comic strip, The Broons) who is compelled by some demonic swine to speak almost entirely in words beginning with the letter ‘f’ or, occasionally, the sufficiently similar ‘ph’ sound, and you have something approximating McArthur’s performance poet alter ego.

With subjects ranging (and I use that word loosely) from advice your mother gave you, to that ever-reliable publication The People’s Friend, how much simpler life was in the Seventies, and the affrontery of young women today in their short skirts and high heels, it isn’t difficult to see why McArthur froze, having forgotten her lines, about seven minutes in (I assumed, like me, she’d simply become too bored to continue).

But wait! Could there be something more sophisticated, more postmodern and cynical going on? In this referendum year, when the people of Scotland are evaluating the place of their culture in the 21st-century, could McArthur – who is as couthie as the kailyard – be the tartan-trimmed secret weapon of the Better Together campaign? If there’s anything guaranteed to sap Scotland of its cultural self-confidence it’s this parochial tosh, which is farcical, flaccid and philistine.

This review was originally published in the Sunday Herald on March 16, 2013

© Mark Brown

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