Hailing from either Sydney or Melbourne, Geraldine Hickey, Lizzy Hoo, Cal Wilson and Celia Pacquola have all recently escaped the extended lockdowns that plagued the eastern states. Their relief is palpable. The last couple of years have weighed heavily on live performers, but these comedians have put their COVID-trauma to excellent use. Lockdown culture has proved a rich vein, with all four riffing on different aspects without impinging on each other’s territory.

Dry and droll, Hickey reprises her role as the quintessential emcee. Within seconds of opening the show, she graciously allowed an audience request for her agapanthus material to derail her intended set with barely a raised eyebrow. Her deadpan accounts of lockdown life spanned an eccentric gamut from not baking sourdough to boat-ramp gender politics.

Geraldine Hickey reprises her role as Chicksal 500 emcee.

Lizzie Hoo’s comedy is similarly dry and observational but delves into vastly different aspects of Australian life. Free-ranging across subjects as diverse as ageing and ethnicity to office ecosystems, rollercoasters and Hillsong Jesus, Hoo’s humour is refreshingly wicked.

Cal Wilson, coming straight off the dual hardships of lockdown and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, had far more to say than she could possibly cram into her set. Her delight at being back in the world was visceral. From her glee at finally being able to see people’s feet to her husband’s lockdown shopping, no aspect of living, working and schooling a family in a single house was safe.

Closing the show was the brilliant Celia Pacquola, fresh from purchasing the last available house in Australia. Having endured Melbourne’s extended lockdowns in a shared flat, it’s no surprise alcohol rated a mention in her COVID set. Her hilarious take on lost cats, high-maintenance dogs and her new house / new boyfriend life renovation was clearly the tip of the iceberg for the fresh pandemic material.

The hour was over in a flash. Each of these amazing women could’ve enthralled us for an hour alone, but the combined energy of all four was sheer delight.

Chicksal 500 is playing at the Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 13 and features a different line up of comedians each week. (March 1-6: Celia Pacquola, Geraldine Hickey, Cal Wilson and Lizzy Hoo. March 8-13: Claire Hooper, Mel Buttle, Nikki Britton and Zoë Coombs Marr.)

Read more 2022 Adelaide Fringe stories and reviews here.

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