Janey Godley in GOOD GODLEY
23/05/2006 - 27/05/2006
Described by the UK press as “a gangster’s moll”, Scottish comedienne, actress, playwright and best-selling author – Janey Godley returns to New Zealand this festival season. Her last visit in 2002 saw her take home the Best Show Concept. The New Zealand Herald wrote that she “demands intelligence from her audience – and rewards it well.”
This year, Janey will be performing runs of her near-legendary comedy show GOOD GODLEY! in both Auckland and Wellington. In addition she has also been selected to perform in the LINDAUER Comedy Divas showcases and to feature in the festival opening gala, filmed live for a national television audience.
A term used commonly by the media to describe Janey is “unique”. Brought up in near-Dickensian poverty in Glasgow, from the ages 5-13 she was sexually abused and relentlessly raped by her uncle (whom she successfully prosecuted and got imprisoned around 30 years later). Aged 18, she married into a Glasgow gangster family. Her mother was murdered by a psychopathic boyfriend, her body thrown into the River Clyde. Janey ran a pub in the tough East End of Glasgow for 14 years, where stabbings and slashings were common and even crucifixion was not unknown. During the ‘Trainspotting’ years, 17 of her friends died from heroin in a 22 month period. All this is the subject of GOOD GODLEY! – she has received wild critical raves for this comedy monologue about child abuse, murder and gangsters.
When GOOD GODLEY! was first performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2004, the London Times reported that Janey risked arrest because of a claim she made during the show’s final 9-minute anecdote. If prosecuted, she faced a charge with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment in the UK. The New York Times called GOOD GODLEY! “some of the sharpest-elbowed comedy in the world”. The Glasgow Herald wrote: “If all of this show is true, and she is extremely convincing, she must have a damn good lawyer.” The Financial Times review read: “It’s not unlike the sensation of shock and delight, thirty years ago, of seeing very early Billy Connolly.”
The same subjects are also covered more seriously in her bestselling 2005 autobiography “Handstands in the Dark”. Her 19-year-old daughter Ashley Storrie, a central character in that book, will accompany Janey on her New Zealand visit.
For full details and background visit www.janeygodley.co.uk, which has links to her extraordinary and award-winning daily online blog, carried by at least 30 websites worldwide.
Tue 23 – Sat 27 May, 8.30pm
Bookings: 04 801 6946, www.downstage.co.nz
Tue 30 May – Sat 3 June, 8.30pm
Silo Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, City Dates:
Bookings: Ticketmaster 09 970 9700
Theatre , Comedy , Solo ,
Feisty fighter fascinates
Review by John Smythe 23rd May 2006
With a life like hers behind her, Janey Godley (not her real name) from Glasgow is a living example of the efficacy of comedy for healing a wounded soul.
She has also written an autobiography – Handstands in the Dark (Ebury Press/Random House, 2005) – about the poverty, dysfunctional family life, sexual abuse (at the hands of an uncle), criminal in-laws and encounters with the law that forms the surprising substance of her comedy show.
While she claims the show changes every night, there is a strong through line. A clearly signalled set-up involving her ambidextrousness leads to a payoff at the end that no-one could predict.
Janey – "Don’t judge me, I had a hard childhood" – Godley is a feisty fighter who shocks us out of our complacency with colourfully expressed truths. She forbears to use as weapons, however, but climbs over them, triumphantly, as if they were slag heaps invented to give us all a better view.
There is a perverse fascination to be had in witnessing this product of that life, live before our very eyes, celebrating the human capacity to survive against extraordinary odds. And peppered throughout are more prosaic observations about more recent experiences, like flying into Wellington for example.
The best stuff is not in her book and is unlike anything I’ve heard from a stand-up comic before. She tells it as secrets not to breathed outside the theatre. The legal implications are huge. Besides, as a survivor she knows how to get bums on her seats.
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