★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Natalie Palamides has returned with a groundbreaking hour about consent that's original, awkward and powerful.
LA based comedian Natalie Palmadies was the talk of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year with her debut hour Laid which saw her named Best Newcomer. In her debut, she played the part of a woman who laid an egg every day and this year's she's back with an equally bizarre and original hour, Nate. A tale about masculinity, sexual harassment and consent.
Dressing up as Nate, who's the definition of a douchebag, he rides in on a tiny motorbike wearing nothing but a lumberjack jacket, trousers and some drawn on chest hair before proving his masculinity further by cracking a raw egg into his mouth, downing cans (of Perrier) and beating a wooden log with an axe. Quite the opening to a show!
The unpredictability of her characters mean that Natalie commands attention from an audience like no one else. None more so than Nate. When he takes a shower you wonder if you're going to get, you wonder if she's going to ask someone to join, when she starts fizzing up cans of Perrier you wonder who she's going to make open them and when she grabs hold of an axe you literally think the worst.
Having just split up with his girlfriend, Nate is sexually promiscuous and tries it on with several members of the audience, but behind this caricature of a man is someone who isn't a monster, who's actually quite sensitive and is aware of the rules.
"All you gotta do is ask" he says, a phrase which takes on further importance during an encounter with his art teacher, Miss Jackson as he asks the audience "Was what I did wrong?". Only they don't really know how to answer and the room fills with awkward silence. And when Nate says "I hope my message was clear" at the end of the show, it's met with laughter which I think says a lot.
As audience members we've witnessed everything but still don't know what to say. We're afraid to give an opinion and we're worried about laughing. Whilst the conversation around consent has moved on significantly recently, Nate proves that the conversation still has further to go.
Shows about masculinity, sexual harassment and consent aren't difficult to come by at the festival this year, but ones that tackle the subject in the way Nate does are.
For many, 2018 has proved to be the difficult second album year. The year where those who debuted in 2017 have returned with an hour that failed to deliver on the promise of the first. But that's not the case with Nate. Natalie Palamides has returned with a groundbreaking hour about consent that's original, awkward and powerful.
Natalie Palamides: Nate runs until 26th August at 6pm with an extra show 24th August at 12:15am at The Pleasance Dome (Pleasance Beside). Book tickets here.
(This review was based on the performance from Friday 17th August 2018)