Anyone who’s ever been a bridesmaid, been through a break-up, or had to move back in with his or her well-meaning, yet meddlesome, family will empathise with Kate McLennan. Thanks to the strength of her performance, anyone who hasn’t been through the aforementioned will also feel some empathy too. It’s the kind of empathy, however, that has you giggling along, furiously nodding your head in agreement and quickly feeling like you want to become this girl’s best friend.
That’s just how Kate — or Katie Mac — is: likeable, self-deprecating in the least annoying way and surprisingly good at impressions. What’s her best impression? Her dad, Pockets. Yes, Pockets…but that’s another story.
After her ‘inner-city wanker couple’ relationship suddenly ends, Kate finds herself back home in Geelong with mum, Gayle and dad, Pockets. Not the ideal place for a 31-year-old but it’s not all bad. There’s her sister’s wedding to look forward to — being dragged to a bridal expo in the wake of a messy break-up is surely just what she needs. Then there’s her dad’s bouts of illness made light of by the fact he insists on ‘suffering you can see’ — shaving his head after being diagnosed with ‘prostrate’ cancer is a great example. Best of all, there’s a family Christmas filled with sage advice from various ill-informed relos on how to snag a hubby. How could Kate not have a sense of humour about it all? But just when things start to feel a tad too bleak, along comes her baby niece to cheer her up.
Interwoven by a series of letters written to her niece — filled with laugh-out-loud advice — Kate’s show, Homeward Bound, tracks a year living at home negotiating a kooky albeit loveable family and Kate’s attempt to get back in the dating game. It’s not easy and ‘for all intensive purposes’ Kate may be better suited to a ‘ready-made family…like that cricketer with the dead wife…’ — the wise words of yet another family member. Peppered with many more references geared towards sports fans and that ring true to her footy-loving family, Homeward Bound is an enjoyable hour of honest comedy. Kate’s impression of her folks and in particular her chilled-out sister, Jane elicit much laughter from the crowd but it’s clear she’s laying it on for comedic effect. A last minute revelation that her sister’s in the crowd makes for the proverbial cherry on the cake.
As a former winner of Best Comedy at the Melbourne Fringe Festival and the recipient of the 2011 The Age M-ie Awards, Comedy Star on the Rise, Kate is clearly starting to get noticed. Homeward Bound manages to deliver a relatable, and as the crowd agreed, funny take on a year with her family but comparisons will undoubtedly be made to Felicity Ward, whose show was also playing at The Victoria Hotel and covers similar ground. A few more years and Kate McLennan will hopefully be on par, but until then, there’s always family Christmas to look forward to.
Words: Tahlia Anderson