Wise, witty, and built to break down boundaries
By Myron My
It’s been eight years since I first saw Ursula Martinez performing in London and was introduced to her hilarious tongue-in-cheek humour. Presented as part of this year’s Midsumma Festival, Martinez returns to the stage with Free Admission, a show full of her unique comedy stylings which has us questioning how our thoughts and choices can easily prevent us from leading the life we desire, while also wittily providing a literal lesson in construction for us.
Martinez’s delivery is well-paced. with an intentional air of awkwardness as she initially explains in a slow speech, as if what she is sharing about life is taboo and shouldn’t be spoken about. As the show progresses the confidence in her voice begins to pick up and find her a new rhythm. While a small portion of the dialogue is quite jarring (and perhaps that is her intention), the majority gives Martinez the opportunity to open up amusingly but affectingly about her insecurities, hopes, fears and disappointments.
As she shares these with us, Martinez begins to build an actual wall between herself and her audience, further emphasising this idea of being caged in or locked up with your own thoughts and shutting out the world and other people. With America’s current attempts to build a wall along the border of Mexico, this is quite a powerful topical element of the show, and while Free Admission does not explicitly reference this, it is still poignantly political with reference to gender and sexuality, refugees, feminism and equality.
The last two concerns are further addressed with Martinez’s outfit; wearing a black top with a crisp white pant-suit and her hair tied up in a bun, she dons a pair of dirty work-gloves and begins constructing her wall. Appearances can be deceiving and Martinez is all about breaking preconceived notions and ideas.
By the end, Martinez shows the freedom and joy of breaking through the walls in our lives in a finale that is uplifting and positive. Free Admission is a well-crafted and intelligent comedy show that is busy building up big ideas and deconstructing important issues: it has a lot to say, and a whole lot more to love and think about.