The Golden Path @ Just the Tonic, The Caves

This muddled hour about cycling is something of an uphill struggle

Review by Rob Young | 16 Aug 2019
  • The Golden Path @ Just the Tonic, The Caves

Clearly not a fan of nuance, Vanessa Hammick begins this rushed, unstructured hour by telling us that “this show is about my dad”. Some cycling and skiing anecdotes follow, offering mild titters, and then, oddly, the patriarch seems expunged from his own show. 

Instead, Hammick swerves away from her father, digressing into her fear of nudity and her socially awkward husband before finally leaving her audience addled with an incongruous detour into virtue-signalling, the Suffragettes and Holland’s cycling revolution. It’s certainly the scenic route, but The Golden Path proves to be a very bumpy ride. 

Part of the problem here is Hammick’s style – stuttering, nervous, anxiously checking her watch like a white rabbit – and it proves difficult to feel relaxed in her company. To her credit, she does try to warm the audience up a bit when things are going downhill, but her patter is unoriginal and, on this occasion, she was almost upstaged by a 12-year-old. At one point the show screeches to a halt as she asks him: “Have your parents ever traumatised you with their genitals?” Crikey. 

There are a couple of decent one-liners and some genuinely interesting history about the Brighton Road, while the use of old photographs provides a useful hinge to the first half of the show. But really, this is an amateurish hour that ultimately rides around in circles as Hammick moves from one non-sequitur to another. Given a little more care and time, this might have been a delicate, occasionally eye-opening lunchtime show. As it is, The Golden Path is rickety and dangerous for children.

The Golden PathJust the Tonic @ The Caves (Just Up the Road), until 25 Aug, 12pm, £5/PWYW