"In her one-woman show HarleQueen, comedian Abby Howells asks us to take female fools seriously.
Howells is an affable goofball who offers charming, self-deprecating storytelling that starts as a history lesson – visual aids and all – and veers into vaudeville schtick and personal narrative. She’s in a very cute harlequin checked dress, platform sandals and an Elizabethan ruff, a picture of femininity that is, in its own way, quite disarming. She’s incredibly sweet – more Sound of Music, we hear, than Chicago – but this also becomes an important part of the show’s focus on the role of women in comedy.
... HarleQueen is also the story of Howells’ own love of making people laugh, and her history of performance. It’s a show for any musical theatre nerd whose bedroom dreams of fame get turned out into the world, and any person who gets knocked back but keeps getting up.
... This show is as much about Howells showing us how to love our own inner weirdos and passions as it is about celebrating the history of transgressive female fools and the untapped scope of female comedy. By the end, we’re all in love with her too. This is to say that the show is excellent, Howells is funny as hell and the sort of voice we desperately need, and HarleQueen is one of my favourite shows this year."