Review: Becky Harrisons’ Punkswats and Being Lonely
Words by Lucas Assagba / Edited by Mia Stapleton
‘What is a punk?’ ‘What is a swat?’
Stood tall in a three-piece suit, and, at times, a cigarette impaled with a stick of incense, Becky Harrison, the triple-threat writer, director, and star of Punkswats and Being Lonely beckoned members of the audience to answer their questions, before begging the question, “So, what’s a punkswat?”
“Well, that’s what you’re here to find out.”
And find out, we did. In just an hour, Harrison took me on a journey of isolation, identity, and a particularly bad acid trip, finding a perfect blend of comedy, philosophy, and absurdity.
I was already familiar with Becky’s personality and humour, having interviewed them a couple of weeks before the show’s December 5th showing. However, the extent of their mind could only truly be realised on the stage, and I was hooked from the very first second. As part of their grand entrance, they ran headfirst towards the stage, high-fiving members of the audience on their way up. “And again!” they exclaimed, as they ran back and forth another time. And another time after that, and after that. Such a simple joke had the audience (and myself) unable to contain themselves, and from that moment, I knew what I was in for.
The entire performance was peppered with spoken-word poetry; if comedy wasn’t the emphasis, emotion was, and the two went back and forth, like a particularly engaging game of tennis. One of the first poems detailed Becky’s experience on acid, as they proclaimed the simple revelation of realising trees are ”just little guys! We’re just little guys!”
Harrison’s crowd work was a strong point. At the start, they darted down the aisle in search of their poetry book in an almost cartoonish fashion; “Is that my…? No, that’s a necklace… Is that…?! No, beer bottle.” Their performance was remarkably candid, including when they asked the audience for words with a “semantic field of capitalism,” because the word was too negative, eventually landing on “the big shit parasite in the sky.”
While the ‘Gen Zed’ experience is at the heart of Punkswats, it isn’t overly reliant on popular culture, something Becky chalked up to being ‘out of the loop.’ In one poem, they detail their infatuation with a Deliveroo driver, and another is centred around our generation’s thirst for individuality, and the silly extent to which it goes; in a brilliant segment about how we thank bus drivers, they proclaim, “under no circumstance can I ever be seen as a copycat.”
Punkswats was at its craziest when Harrison donned the papier mâché head of Dr. Sigfried Lovecheese, presenting a silent, almost mime-adjacent segment of audience interaction and dancing. It was unlike any performance I’ve ever seen and left me in awe and laughter.
On their first solo outing, Becky Harrison filled my night with a show of hard-hitting emotional revelations, truly engaging philosophy, and quite possibly the funniest comedy routine I’ve ever seen.
(Image Credit: Edinburgh Fringe)