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‘Purple Snowflakes and Titty Wanks’ review

  • Theatre, Drama
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Purple Snowflakes and Titty Wanks, Royal Court 2022
Photo by Luca Truffarelli Sarah Hanly
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

This raucous debut play from Irish writer-performer Sarah Hanly is filthy good fun

I love a good Catholic bad girl – who doesn’t? – but despite riotous hours binge-watching ‘Derry Girls’ in lockdown, I wouldn’t have bet on anything new or surprising springing up in this auld feck-laden, nun-baiting comedy genre. More fool me. The form just got a spunky new star in Irish writer and performer Sarah Hanly whose debut has all the shits and giggles you’d expect in the post-‘Fleabag’ era and something more besides: a buoyant, warm, confidence and talent that sticks two fingers up the patriarchy and everything else she can lay her hands on.

‘Purple Snowflakes and Titty Wanks’ is fast, fresh, funny and filthy.

The energy is electric. Hanly pings elastically from convent toilet masturbation to BDSM lesbian adventures to an onstage rope accident while coked up doing local panto, to puking her guts up (sample style: ‘I looooove chocolate. It tastes as good on the way up as it does on the way down’). It’s like watching a Hiit comedy workout themed on all the teenage mental health big-hitters, which somehow manages to be authentic and hilarious without minimising the ‘issues’ or dragging your mood down. 

There were a couple of moments when I lost track of who was who and what was what, but that never spoiled the fun. When I said ‘spunky’ I meant it literally as well as metaphorically. This is cheaply and cheerfully staged but there is some genius prop work with a pink bum bag from which Hanly produces – with magical flair, like a hardcore Mary Poppins – all manner of stuff including a pair of wearable hand-knitted bollocks on a string, an unfeasibly large microphone and hand sanitiser with which she lavishly recreates a very messy titty wank in a car park. Kudos to director Alice Fitzgerald, who does the business and keeps the pace and feeling flowing brilliantly.

You just don’t see this kind of energy and talent debuting every day. Hanly has all the comic chops: she can write, joke, gurn, whip up and down the octaves to deliver half a dozen vocal caricatures and clown too, bending over backwards into all these mad scenarios and wild feelings. Her debut reminded me of seeing a very young Phoebe Waller-Bridge onstage for the first time at the tiny Bush Theatre, long before the ‘Fleabag’ era. If Hanly can develop her considerable talent and sustain this manic pace and energy through fresher, more original genres and more ambitious concepts then she will be a big star. More, please!

Written by
Caroline McGinn

Details

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Price:
£15-£25. Runs 1hr 5min
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