Jessica Fostekew @ Monkey Barrel

Jessica Fostekew delivers a hilarious tornado of rage on gender roles and society

Review by Polly Glynn | 03 Aug 2019
  • Jessica Fostekew

Jessica Fostekew has forever been referred to as Hench. Sturdy, solid and strong, or at least words to that effect. Her hour explores what it means to be referred to with compliments usually reserved for men, internalised gender expectations and the complexities of raising her son in current society.

Looking deeper, Fostekew’s show is a metaphor for both the emotional and physical strength that women are required to have as they carry years of embedded inequality on their shoulders. The contrast between her recommended ‘lovely’ birth plan and the screaming, unbearable reality of childbirth speaks volumes. As is the discussion of the athlete Caster Semenya, subjected to unjust and invasive testing to prove her identity.

Hench is far from being a sullen introspection though. It’s performed in a frenetic, almost animalistic state, where Fostekew switches from roaring “THANK YOU FOR MY COMPLIMENT” to a calm whisper when her son wants to play with knives, in an instant. Jokes hit like hailstones, sharp and unstoppable. Pelted with the next before you’ve had time to recover from the ones before.

It’s an enthralling hour of finessed, technical stand-up which explores the tricky topic of gender expectations and societal pressure in a different way to those before. Fostekew’s hour is the epitome of hench; a powerful thing made from hard work and passion.

Jessica Fostekew: Hench, Monkey Barrel Comedy (Monkey Barrel 4), Until 25 Aug (not 12), 1.30pm, £5/PWYW