THE SOUNDS of laughter raising the roof at the Palace Theatre last Thursday (October 29) must have been heard up the road at the offices of the Redditch Standard as TV star Ruby Wax took to the stage.
The wise-cracking funny girl was on top form, showcasing her derisive wit and sarcasm to a packed house.
I have fond memories of watching the Girls on Top and Absolutely Fabulous star as a youngster and was looking forward to witnessing her brash and brazen self in person.
And Ruby did not disappoint – for an hour she succinctly explained the increasingly complex workings of the brain, as published in her critically acclaimed book, Sane New World, but with an acerbic tongue and her trademark wit.
The self-titled ‘poster girl for mental health’, who has battled with depression in the past, treated the audience to a comic yet thought-provoking explanation into how stress and the 21st century habit of ‘Keeping-Up-With-The-Jones” could wreak havoc on our minds and mental wellbeing.
She shared that her most common thought is that she is ‘too fat to wear tights’ and confessed the only reason she is able to finish a show is because she is now aware that every member of the audience is having the very same self-critical thoughts.
“I don’t know why we are so cruel to ourselves,”she added. “We wouldn’t be as cruel to our pets as we are to ourselves.”
But the funny-girl got serious when she shared her belief that it was stress we would have to watch out for in the future.
“It is the grenade in the cookie jar,” she said.
Ruby spent the final five minutes of the show, prior to the interval, sharing a ‘meditation’ session with the audience sitting in darkness contemplating images of the sea bed floating by display screens – trying in vain to focus your mind on the silence rather than wondering what you would cook for tea tomorrow night or if you had locked the car doors before heading into the theatre.
And the show only got more surreal when Ruby tried to host a debate on mental health after the interval.
It was clear she wanted an open discussion rather than the question and answer session it became and seemed keen to end the show after giving three or four typically brash and comic responses.
After imploring shouts for one more question, she headed off stage only to return to perform a bizarre dance to Shakira’s Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) – complete with a video of infamous sign language translator, Thamsanqa Jantjie.
It was, to sum it up in one word, a surreal experience – that received a standing ovation from some die-hard fans in the audience.