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[Review] Strong Female Lead

By Judith Peterson

Lightbulb Improv Smith’s Alternative, 22 August 2019

There was a relaxed and welcoming vibe at Smith’s Alternative for the latest outing of Lightbulb Improv’s Strong Female Lead variety night.

Hosted by Lightbulb co-founders Amy Crawford and Lou Maconachie, the series is designed to showcase the talented women of Canberra by providing a platform to present songs, stories, and creative souls.

The lineup on this occasion didn’t disappoint.

Local comedian Chris Ryan opened with a polished and confident routine that was self-deprecating and insightful, leaving no doubt as to why she won the best newcomer at the Sydney Comedy Festival earlier this year.

This was followed by an original song by musical trio Ruth & Friends, featuring Ruth Oettle, Georgie Bryant and Matilda Broe. Oettle’s witty rap, which spoke to the theme of the show, was a standout for the night. She will be a performer to watch as she continues to develop her stage presence.

Experienced theatre practitioner Ali Clinch delivered the heartwarming, raw and beautifully told “Mothering Father”, a personal story detailing the struggles that came with becoming a new mum and carer for her dad at the same time. Affecting and uplifting, Clinch’s delivery was confronting but also beautifully humorous. The added visuals of her family gave the story some serious emotional punch.

Lightbulb member and regular Smith’s performer Helen Way delighted with a sketch called “Elise, Most Annoying Niece”. This thoroughly entertaining comedic piece had it all: music, audience participation and an abundance of flare-filled dramatic language.

With additional performances by the band Virginia’s Wolf (Caley Callahan, Monica Lindemann, and Tammy Pinto) and Liz St Claire Long, the evening’s conclusion left a distinct buzz in the air.

These good feelings were only amplified by the knowledge that all proceeds from the night — announced a few days later to be $600 — were to be donated to the YWCA Canberra to support women in the Canberra community.

A good night for a good cause. I look forward to seeing the next one.

The next Strong Female Lead event will be on 28 November 2019 at Smith’s Alternative. If you’re interested in taking the stage, send your expression of interest to Lightbulb Improv at


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