There’s a vaudeville feeling in the air as the audience reaches near capacity on opening night. Gluttony’s Piglet stage is an open shipping container facing seats lining the grassy banks of Rymill Park.

The music fades and Ange Lavoipierre arrives on stage as a giant black spider stripping its legs. It’s a unique way of capturing the crowd’s attention, and it gives the Sydney comic and journalist an arresting entry point to a show promising “nothing weird, no gimmicks”.

Lavoipierre has extensive experience in radio – until recently she was co-host of the ABC daily news podcast The Signal and she’s worked extensively for triple j and other ABC platforms –which brings a strong knack for timing and storytelling. Although opening-night nerves see her forget her place on several occasions, the story remains intact and manages to regain its pace.

She has spent the last few years perfecting her craft on the Fringe circuit, and her solid narrative structure, dotted with one-liners to hold the audience’s attention, is well-honed.

The show is let down by surrounding open-air venues competing for the auditory spotlight; a segment of audience participation, in particular, fails under the wash of background noise and lack of microphones. Early in the performance, a patron in the front row is asked to ding a bell whenever a problem is named, but this gimmick runs its course when it overshadows and distracts Lavoipierre herself.

There are plenty of silly moments in I’ve Got 99 Problems and Here is an Extensive List of Them, but it also manages to be deftly subversive. Spiders are, of course, a problem, but so is internalised misogyny, a career crisis during a pandemic, and moving in with a boyfriend after only dating for a month. The show may begin as an arachnid burlesque, but it becomes a vehicle for profound statements about gender and relationships.

This is original and clever comic storytelling from a rising star of Australian comedy.

I’ve Got 99 Problems and Here is an Extensive List of Them is at Gluttony until February 27.

Read more 2022 Adelaide Fringe stories and reviews here.

 

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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.