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Smasher by Helen Duff at The Vault Festival – Review

SmasherIn the immortal words of Salt & Pepper, “Let’s talk about sex baby, let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be.” Yup, it’s a comedy show all about the highs and lows of the female big ‘O’.

Akin to a ménage à trios of The Vagina Monologues meets Sex & The City vs South Park. Smasher is a comedy piece that marries observation with the absurd and honest truth of sexual intercourse. Refreshingly candid, it is the type of chat that women through millennia have explored except this time on a stage, with lights, sound and props!

Comedienne Helen Duff is brilliant at taking the subject from all angles; the audience is introduced to the witty waif as a sperm in full on waterproof get-up. At first this guise is not an obvious choice but with various mounting of audience members, bad chat up lines and let’s face it, a bit of audience fore play, the penny drops that you’ve entered a sacred place where no holes are bared.

If you are male, this is a soft introduction to girl talk, a real yet comical chat about the trials and tribulations of female ejaculation and reaching the pinnacle of sexual highs. This is not a tyrannical feminist view but an honest exploration of life. The show offers an amusing insight from a male perspective and you know what, if you go as a couple, you might just learn something!

Tasked with the question, “what does an orgasm feel like?” The audience builds a crescendo; playing with poppers, bananas, water guns and more to produce a medley of surreal expectations regarding the mystical orgasm.

We can all identify with the ‘cumming’ of age or lack of it – identifying as the protagonist or friend of in this situation. Hell, with only 57% of women reaching the summit of such highs Helen Duff emerges from this post-coital discourse as a heroin of our time. Not content to lie back and think of England, she’s shouting it out to the rafters of Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Edinburgh Fringe and beyond.

From a female perspective, this show is great for anyone with a vagina but boys, don’t be discouraged! It’s funny, it’s banterful and definitely holds plenty of laughs. Just as in life, it wouldn’t work without you! This is a show that doesn’t take itself seriously. Heckle and enjoy, the show teaches you that you can’t plan your enjoyment, you just have to relish the journey wherever that takes you.

As a show the content is pretty ballsy; poignant, witty and fun. Helen Duff exhibits a fragility that gives the show a purpose. Sure, there’s enough content to make you laugh out loud but there is also an underlying current of truth that wins out. It’s a statement for all the underdogs that it ain’t all stars and glitter but a self exploration, something to aspire to.

Following a sell-out tour of the comedy festival circuit, Helen Duff proves that sex sells so don’t be shy, get it while you can, this is one night you won’t regret!

4 stars

Review by Stephanie Caiger-Watson

Hot off the back of a SOLD OUT work in progress run at the Edinburgh Fringe 2015 and a direct transfer to Perth FRINGE WORLD 2016, SMASHER is the second instalment from Fringe First nominated Helen Duff, following on from her solo debut show VANITY BITES BACK (winner of VAULT ‘Judge’s Pick’ Award 2015), which opened VAULT Festival London 2015, was selected for the Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and finished its UK tour with a ★★★★★ rated run at the Tobacco Factory, Bristol this October.

Vault festival – Pit
24th – 28th February 2016 at 9.15pm


  • Stephanie Caiger-Watson

    Stephanie is a graduate of Brighton Institute of Modern Music where she studied vocals and professional musicianship. She has performed professionally in film, commercials and theatre and has a real passion for the arts. Currently working in Marketing & PR she is excited to combine her love of writing with her love of the stage.

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