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Oops, This Is Toxic review: Candid revelations and cultural observations make for a riotous comic show

Dublin Fringe Festival 2022: Comedian Julie Jay uses a conventional stand-up format to deliver uncomfortable truths and irresistible laughs

Oops, This Is Toxic

Boys’ School, Smock Alley Theatre

A solo work mercilessly dissecting the perniciously gendered nature of society through frank personal history and acute cultural observations doesn’t sound like a recipe for irresistible laughs, but Julie Jay’s show is just that. Garbed in a red latex body suit, the comedian uses the stand-up format to interweave the troubles of Britney Spears, her teenage pop idol, with wincingly candid accounts of her own tribulations, though Jay’s irreverently winning presence means that even the most soul-baring revelations are opportunities for riotous humour.

A former teacher — “I still have the bang of múinteoir off me” — she unsparingly recounts how toxic sexual encounters led to mental-health breakdowns, drawing a line between such incidents and the objectifying sexist environment inhabited by Spears and her peers. Amid such illuminating insights, Jay never flags comedically, moving from wry observations on the difference between embarrassment and shame to raucous riffs on generational and national stereotypes. Such is her effortless flair that even technical glitches elicit laughs. The result is a rambunctious evening of uncomfortable truths delivered with deceptively fizzy elan.

Runs at Smock Alley Theatre until Sunday, September 18th, as part of Dublin Fringe Festival

Mick Heaney

Mick Heaney

Mick Heaney is a radio columnist for The Irish Times and a regular contributor of Culture articles