Lara Ricote, Soho Theatre: big-hearted, grotty show about the messiness of love

Lara Ricote is one of the most exciting young comics of the decade
Lara Ricote is one of the most exciting young comics of the decade - Wesley Verhoeve

The Soho Theatre’s stage is strewn with cardboard tombstones. Among them walks Lara Ricote – less Tomb Raider, more oddball priestess – before wafting through the crowd in a white christening gown. Any audience lives only for one night, she explains; in this show, we will be baptised with a new name, build an intimate relationship with the mischievous 27-year-old, and be snuffed out an hour later.

It’s a cute conceit: the goofy Mexican comic uses the performer-audience bond as a stand-in for romance, tying together an hour of sweet and salty observational comedy about the ups and downs of a longterm relationship. We’re encouraged to call out vowels and consonants, Countdown-style, to generate a shared name (on press night, “Kofut Duba”), which provides a consistently funny running joke. “I like you, Kofut,” she grins.

Ricote is one of the fastest-rising stars on the scene, popping up on QI and Live at the Apollo since the summer of 2022, when she was crowned the Edinburgh Fringe’s Best Newcomer (the award that launched the careers of Harry Hill and Tim Minchin).

Nobody sounds quite like Ricote, which is partly due to her writing – raised in Mexico but based in Amsterdam, she seems to have escaped all the clichés of bog-standard British observational stand-up – and partly due to her actual voice. A high, cartoonish lisp one moment, an animal growl the next, its unusual timbre is a natural comic asset, brilliantly deployed. “I sound like this offstage, too,” she jokes. “I’m hard of hearing but that has nothing to do with the voice, unfortunately. That’s just a kiss on the forehead from God himself.”

Ricote has degenerative hearing loss, while her partner, Fernando, has no sense of smell. As you’d imagine, she gets no end of material from this: “We’re like each other’s service dogs.” Having a boyfriend who can’t smell has its upsides, an idea she illustrates with an acted-out mime of an unnoticed fart, sashaying into a room like a catwalk model. (Ricote has a flair for silly, full-body physical comedy.)

There’s a Seinfeldish simplicity to the stronger routines here, whether she’s pleading ignorance about such ideas as “communicating” and “being supportive” – she’s new to relationships, how could she possibly have known – or splitting the audience in two, and judging both halves on their reactions: “Half of you came here, and the other half were brought – and I can tell.”

The show that won Ricote her Best Newcomer trophy was thrilling but scattershot, a ragbag of ideas. This follow-up, directed by fellow Gen-Z comedy wunderkind Leo Reich, is more streamlined, more theatrical. At times, it feels too neatly put together, as when a silly opening musical number (a mangled rendition of Let It Be) gets an inevitable reprise at the end, or when a prop-based joke self-consciously punctures a moment of seriousness. But if it’s not quite as packed with quotable gags, it still feels like a step in the right direction from a comedian destined for great things.


Until March 2: sohotheatre.com