THURSDAY 3RD NOVEMBER 2016 – Homotopia Festival – Unity Theatre, Liverpool – Review by Tate James

If its quirky title doesn’t grab your attention then the self-professed triple-threat talent of its leading lady will. ‘The Rise and Fall of the Hamburger Queen’ is a highly amusing romp, inspired (very) loosely by true events, chronicling the life of aspiring dancer and plus-size personality: Ashleigh. The daughter of a stern and matronly mother and a fabulously gay father, we hear how Ashleigh finds her true calling to unleash the dancer within and follow in her father’s footsteps, by seeking the “chance to dance”.

Through a series of extended monologues, hysterical comedy dance routines, well-placed original songs and constant reassurances to the audience of just how talented she is, Ashleigh Owen (as the caricature of herself) delivers a Whopper of a performance. It is no mean feat to maintain momentum through such a high-energy two-act one-woman show, and Owen rises to the challenge as the Big Mac with her strong characterisation and acting abilities shining through.

Whilst her cameo appearance as her flamboyant father was well received, and the dastardly Super Agent Beverley’s Snapchat is bound to bag a few more followers, it is her portrayal of Ashleigh’s mother that provided the most entertaining scenes, an unnervingly accurate representation of the typical stoic dinner lady personality we all remember. But the character of Ashleigh definitely steals the show and rightly so, savouring every moment of starring in her one woman show, and determined to hide her poor stage hand in the wings for fear of it becoming a two-woman show.

The hilarious script by Owen and Paul Burke is, in the most-part, fast paced and energetic and the use of Audio-Visual elements with projection and voiceover adds a layer of accomplishment onto a piece that has grown and developed over the last few years. The attention to detail in the characters’ parody personality traits combined with the witty choreography by Andrew McKay all play to Owen’s obvious strength for physical comedy making this a wonderful showcase for a talented comedic actress.

This first night audience left the show feeling thoroughly entertained, having giggled and belly laughed throughout. To quote the leading lady after an incident involving a pirouette and a pizza slice:

“There was cheese and laughter everywhere I looked”

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