This former special advisor to the Labour party lifts the lid on the inner workings of British politics in her 2017 Fringe comedy show State of the Nation, following her national tour of the same name. Ayesha Hazarika barely has to try to write a joke – the past year in British and world politics provides the material for free. Having served under Gordon Brown and advised Ed Miliband on his 2015 election campaign, this left wing idealist is perfectly aware of her part in past failures, jesting to the audience that if she really wanted to serve the British public perhaps she should offer her services to the Conservative party instead.
Without holding back, Hazarika provides a fresh, sharp insight into what it’s really like to be a woman in British politics today. Even at the heart of a party who preach equality, she talks of being the only woman in the room at strategy meetings and being made to feel as though she was only there to be the tea lady. She lands laughs, that cannot be denied, but for a comedy show, it almost felt as though the comedy was on the back burner at times. Some jokes came naturally – such is the political state of our world at present – but others felt forced; although Hazarika is clearly deftly able to navigate the political landscape, outwith this topic, her comedy turns a little lacklustre.
For someone who is invested in the recent nosedive of British politics, State of the Nation is a show not to be missed. However, if you’re less into politics and just looking for an evening of easy laughs, I would advise you to look elsewhere.
Words: Emily Hay
Photo: Steve Ullathorne
Ayesha Hazarika: State of the Nation, Gilded Balloon at the Museum, Aug 14-20, 7.30pm