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Dawn French - 30 Million Minutes Show - Review

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Event: -
Sentimental but fun live show across UK
This one woman show from Dawn French is autobiographical so it seemed apt that it was the essence of the comedian herself - warm, funny and immensely likeable.

Dawn French
Dawn French's new show 30 Million Minutes is funny and sentimental in equal measure

Through an emotional rollercoaster of two hours she gently steers the audience from charming, sentimental family stories to heartbreaking tales of her father's suicide, failed fertility treatment and being the brunt of shameless racist attacks over her inter-racial marriage to fellow comedian Lenny Henry.

Despite the gritty topics, this show - named after the 30 million minutes of life she has so far enjoyed - is, overall, optimistic and uplifting and carefully balances sentiment with comedy and sadness.

There's also a good mix of photos, music and even dancing to MC Hammer.

I caught the show early on in the UK tour at Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre. Until November, French will be travelling to across most of the country including parts of London, Newcastle, Liverpool, Bristol, Oxford and Coventry.

Most of the first part of the show focuses on her early years with her family, occasionally digressing into hilarious sections about boys or the body. Going through each part of hers and what it means to her is a revelation - do women really have seven or eight holes?

Dawn French2
Dawn French is one of Britain's most popular female comedians

After the interval, the tales move on to life with her Dudley-born, equally famous ex-husband Lenny Henry, what it was like to adopt and be hounded by unkind showbiz reporters on immensely personal matters.

What is clear throughout is that French is being extremely frank and this genuine and witty performance resonates well with the audience, if anything, making them like her more.

She has also created a show for every man (and particularly women). It's about the highs and lows in life that affect everyone whoever you are. It's about your parents, your siblings, your grannies, your body issues and your self-confidence. It reaches out across ages, class and race.

French has become one of Britain's most popular female comedians following years as a double-act with Jennifer Saunders and success in her own right in roles such as The Vicar of Dibley, partly through her silliness, fun and self mockery.

This very honest and open show will only help to build on that popularity.

Rating: 9/10

Dawn French - 30 Million Minutes
Tickets cost from £33.40 and are available from The ATG ticket website or the Ticketmaster website.

Tour dates:

June 18 - 20 - New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham

June 24 - 28 - Theatre Royal Brighton, Brighton

July 3 - New Theatre Oxford

July 4 - 5 - Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

July 6 - Southend Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-On-Sea, GB

July 12 - Barbican Centre, York

July 23 - 24 Hawth Theatre, Crawley, Surrey

July 25 - 27 Hexagon Theatre, Reading

July 30 - August 2 - Orchard Theatre Dartford

September 2 - Leeds Grand Theatre

September 3 - 4 - Blackpool Grand Theatre

September 5 - Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall

September 9 - 10 - The Churchill Theatre Bromley, London

September 16 - Corn Exchange, Kings Lynn

Sept 17 - 18 - Milton Keynes Theatre

Sept 22 - 23 - Ipswich Regent Theatre

Sept 26 - 27 - Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre, Newcastle Upon Tyne

October 1 -2 - Queens Theatre Barnstaple

October 8 - The Anvil, Basingstoke

October 9 - Southport Theatre & Convention Centre

October 15 - Southend Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-On-Sea

October 17 - 18 - Bristol Hippodrome

October 21 - 22 - Princess Theatre Torquay, Torquay

October 24 - Kings Theatre Southsea, Portsmouth

October 28 - Palace Theatre Manchester

October 30 - G Live Guildford

November 1-2 - Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry

November 6-7 - Pavilion, Worthing

November 9-10 - Wycombe Swan Theatre, High Wycombe

November 11 - Liverpool Empire

November 16 - Swansea Grand Theatre

November 20 - Bournemouth Pavilion

November 21 - Lighthouse, Poole

November 26 - Hull New Theatre

November 27 - Opera House Buxton

November 30 - Cambridge Corn Exchange
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Why? See a funny yet sentimental show from one of the UK's favourite female comedians
When: Until November
Phone: Various - See UK tour theatres listed
Where: Various UK theatres
Cost: From £33
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