Stand-up comedy review: Rachel Parris: Best Laid Plans
Ivan Radford | On 10, Feb 2021
“Once you’re 30, you’re basically dead.” So sings Rachel Parris in Best Laid Plans, an hour-long stand against the pressures placed upon women, adults and ourselves as the unstoppable force of time marches on. Parris has become one of the most distinctive figures on the UK comedy scene, thanks to her scene-stealing turn on The Mash Support opposite Nish Kumar. In her own solo show, she doesn’t disappoint, leaning into her mildly frantic deadpan with a panicked smile and razor-sharp wit.
Best Laid Plans explores what happens when those plans don’t come to fruition, whether it’s the lack of a spouse, the absence of 2.4 children or not owning a house. At the show’s core is the breakdown of a relationship just as Parris was reaching her 30s, leading to a bout of depression and some emails to The Samaritans that she reads out with a darkly comic honesty – and, one suspects, some shrewdly embellished and amusing details.
That bravery to address the kind of topics and expectations that people tend to brush under the carpet – even years after the special was recorded – is life-affirming in itself, but what makes Best Laid Plans a joy is how that frank dissection of mental health and midlife crises is served up through a menagerie of toe-tapping songs.
Tackling everything from attending endless weddings and love not always being enough to visiting the gym, she breezily drifts between songs and anecdotes, hopping from musical theatre showstoppers to jazzy numbers, each number stitched together with clever lyrics and Elton John-esque piano. Climaxing in a wonderful answer to Flight of the Conchords’ Business Time, it’s an uplifting retort to childhood dreams and adult disappointment – “Running feels like a cross between having a heart attack and being beaten up by the air” – that sparks with catchy energy and a scathing positivity.
Best Laid Plans is available on NextUp as part of a £9.99 monthly subscription, with a 7-day free trial.