Be prepared. That’s the motto of the scouting movement, and also the title of the latest outing from stand-up Lucy Porter. With her children now taking their first steps along the path forged by Baden-Powell, Porter told us, she used this as a jumping-off point to reminisce about her own experiences in the Brownies and Guides, as well as what effect they had on the person she is today.
Throughout the course of the show, we were treated to nostalgia and the philosophy of Porter’s Brown Owl, as a sort of mentor figure – a wonderfully drawn character and the epitome of someone who has life all worked out, while Porter admitted to feeling the opposite. This dichotomy provided plenty of comic material, with a story about a First Aid exercise being particularly fertile territory, and setting up a fantastic call-back later on.
The show, divided into two distinct halves, fast-forwarded to the present day after the interval, which served to underline the overall theme but also sacrificed some of its strongest humour, in comparison with the richer, more evocative storytelling of the opening section, with Porter dwelling on more conventional material about her family’s domestic life. This felt less effective – and less unique – than the childhood-focused routines from earlier.
Nevertheless, she was able to tie together these disparate parts to provide a satisfying ending which made the most of her comedic voice; the joke-filled yarns giving way to thematic resonance but still packing an impressive punchline. Wholesome comic narrative delivered with a bit of a wink, this was a show Porter has clearly been preparing for most of her life, and it was well worth it.