Jessica Fostekew has been having a lot of changes over the last few years, and she’s sharing them all. Fuelled by outrage, excitement and curiosity, Fostekew delivers her thoughts and stories at a million miles an hour. Quite possibly there’s a 90 minute show crammed into this 50 minutes slot, as there’s barely time for her to catch her breath before she cuts short applause and laughter to launch straight into the next section. Hang tight and buckle in.
Over lockdown Fostekew has – along with her unlikely friendship with a neighbour and loss of ‘small talk’ – also been navigating the personal and larger politics of coming out as queer in her 30s. With a chuckle and a growled punchline, she raises questions of identity, labels, and a nice turn in whether either should be a fixed point robbed of evolution. It’s a brand new change after 9 years in a heteronormative relationship – a lifetime of heteronormative relationships – and, she discovers, a brand new awareness to homophobia in her patch of the world. Finding herself a curiosity amongst her friends now prompts a healthy dose of ridicule from Fostekew, descending into a nice bit of play acting of a chaste lesbian exchange.
One of the great joys of Fostekew’s material is her bamboozlement at the world, and the fire in her belly at it. Her language is peppered with great remnants of parental self-censorship, with words like ‘bonk’ and ‘crumbs’ doubling down on the humour of the situations they are describing.
As a mother of one precocious 6-year-old she paints the picture of domestic queer life as a enjoyably atypical, especially when involving her partner’s cats or her own son. It’s a snapshot of love and eccentricity.
‘Wench’ is a fun show, but it’s somewhat scattered. With Fostekew gasping for breath rattling through it at breakneck speed, there’s a disservice to the material as it not only doesn’t always have time to land as strongly as it could, but can also be missed amongst the sheer number of words coming out of her mouth. There’s less connection with the audience, struggling to keep up with these gems which is a shame.
‘Humans weren’t designed to be scared for years and years,’ Fostekew states. And it’s true. And with such adventures to be had off the tracks to following your heart, who wouldn’t want to be a little brave.
Jessica Fostekew: Wench
Monkey Barrel, 3-28 (except 15th) August 2022