The programme description of Joy Provision claims that the show will ‘optimise’ your joy levels, and Pippa Evans certainly fulfils that promise. She is vigorously energetic, talented and almost overwhelmingly likeable. The show is filled with belly-achingly funny gags, charming audience interaction, and very impressive musical talent.
Evans bursts onto the stage with an upbeat opening number. Her mingling with the audience in this first song is indicative of what will follow: getting up close and then a little bit closer. Evans is one of those wonderful comedians who is talented enough not to need to fall back on being unkind to the audience, and she was really rather gentle and supportive when picking on individual members.
Joy Provision is well-written and clever. There are a few cracking one-liners, and the show flows well and ends smoothly. It’s also quite giddy: there are silly jokes, upbeat songs and a feel-good vibe that will follow you out of the theatre. Evans’ dancing is often ridiculous, always fun and completely unselfconscious.
One of Evans’ many claims to fame is as a member of the Showstoppers, an improvised musical troupe. Her talent as an improviser shines throughout the show in off-the-cuff interactions with the audience, and one of the highlights of the performance is when she improvises a song for us based on suggestions from an audience member. She has an excellent singing voice, and is accompanied by a wonderful pair of musicians and backing singers, who seemed to be genuinely having fun throughout the performance.
A few jokes fell flat, and there were a few specific references that passed most of the audience by. Some of Evans’ impressions were a bit dubious, and there was also an anecdote-turned-rant that went on a little too long, losing most of us along the way. It did tie the show together, but I felt that this came at the cost of a few minutes of bemusement from the audience.
But these were minor faults in a show that was otherwise extremely funny. Evans is physically very expressive, and has an easy and confident stage presence, keeping the energy in the room high for the whole hour. The best thing about her show is how charismatic she is – there are several moments when she couldn’t actually speak because she was laughing too much at her own joke, which instead of being annoying simply endeared her to me even more. Joy Provision does exactly what is says on the tin, and will cheer you up with a hilarious, silly hour of good-natured fun.