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Review: An Evening With Nana Funk at Little LTF ****

Liverpool Theatre Festival’s Little LTF has returned to St Luke’s Bombed Out Church for a second spring session showcasing new writing and north west talent.

Nana Funk may have been entertaining cabaret and festival audiences for the best part of a decade, but it’s great to see her stepping on to the Little LTF stage this season.

They say youth is wasted on the young – but old age certainly isn’t wasted on Angie Waller’s comic creation.

Ukulele in hand and control pants firmly in place, this is a nana growing old both gracefully and gloriously disgracefully – less gaga and more Lady Gaga.

Accompanied by Claire Jones as her brilliantly deadpan mute musical sidekick ‘Val’ (the remaining member of Nana and the Varifocals), and with a torrential spring downpour hammering off the roof of the festival marquee, Nana took the festival’s Friday night audience on a journey through the process of aging in a world which still values youth over maturity.

Waller is a warm-hearted performer who slips bitingly spry social commentary into her lyrics, challenging how older people – particularly women – are seen and portrayed by wider society.

Dipping into a ‘murky’ back catalogue including her album Is It Hot or Is It Just Me? her hour-long show featured songs about the menopause (not a stop, just a comma in life), the pandemic which brought every day living to a juddering halt, a political ‘Nanafesto’ to the tune of Les Mis’s tragi-ballad I Dreamed a Dream, a song written for Percussion Pat (her pacemaker kept her in time), and – glammed up in sequinned slippers – a Queen-style Show Must Go On belter.

The fixed setlist was juxtaposed with ‘ask Nana’ audience question breaks with Waller, a member of Liverpool improv group Impropriety, offering neat off-the-cuff musical responses to queries like ‘why does nothing rhyme with orange?’ and ‘what do you do to take down a passive-aggressive work colleague?’.

“Just because we’ve got a bus pass doesn’t mean we can’t rock,” sang Nana, reincarnated in fierce Gaga/Katy Perry/Ariana Grande stage finery for a life-affirming finale complete with an audience singalong.

Wit, wisdom and a cascade of Werther's Originals. Who could ask for more?

Photo by David Munn.

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