Modern Romance

Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, Sunday 13th May, 2012

I don’t usually review stand-up on this blog but then this is not your usual stand-up show. Comedian and actor Isy Suttie (you’ll know her as Dobby in Peep Show) performs a one-woman show, a story with songs that packs into its running time wit, wisdom, bathos and pathos (my two favourite musketeers!).

Armed with her acoustic guitar and sparkling eyes, Suttie is prettier than you might expect. Dressed in a shapeless sweatshirt and with a casual manner, she gives off signals that this is an informal affair. What you might think is opening preamble is the start of the show proper, easing us in and setting the scene. As children, she and her sister accidentally became pen friends with a man who lived a couple of doors away. The correspondence continues over the years, developing from swapping notes on what they had for tea to recounting tales of romantic encounters, failed and otherwise.

This man, the eponymous Dave, met a girl during a sojourn at Butlin’s, and feels she is the one that got away. Innovations in internet technology such as Friends Reunited (remember that?), FaceBook and Skype, mean he is able to track down this Pearl and resume contact. Pearl is unhappily married in Guildford. Their relationship is rekindled and flourishes, and we get glimpses of the progress made through a series of amusing songs Victoria Wood would kill to have written.

Running alongside this is a subplot telling of Suttie’s own experiences with boyfriends good and bad (not forgetting Roy, the papier-mâché penguin), as a counterpoint to the grand passion of Pearl and Dave.

The performance is deceptively laid back, seemingly effortless. There is plenty to smile at, more at which to laugh out loud and, most surprisingly, a great deal that tugs at the heartstrings. By the end, when Pearl and Dave have found a way of managing their acquaintance, it is so bittersweet I was trying to clap my hands down to bloody stumps and at the same time wipe away tears.

Funny, touching and altogether charming, Pearl & Dave strikes a balance of the nostalgic and the up-to-date. It is a satire and a celebration of the ways we communicate.

About williamstafford

Novelist (Brough & Miller, sci fi, historical fantasy) Theatre critic and Actor - I can often be found walking the streets of Stratford upon Avon in the guise of the Bard! View all posts by williamstafford

2 responses to “Modern Romance

  • Bryan

    Thanks William. Sounds a great show. I’m not familiar with a lot of the references you give (e.g. “Peep Show”) but, i don’t watch too much TV, except widlife programmes, true life documentaries etc., some sport now and again, and occasionally “Casualty.”.

    Anyway, good (female) music and comedy combined sounds like a winning combination, and Suttie certainly looks winningly winsome too, so, i’ll keep an eye out for her, should she surface in Staffs. Bathos/pathos also very much my “cup of (theatrical) tea” so to speak. Both in fair abundance in “Where Have i Been All My Life” i thought.

    Just to let you know i now won’t be able to get to “Far From the Madding Crowd” untill June, but i’ll let you know likely dates, and maybe we can meet up at the New Vic on a mutually convenient night, as you suggested. It promises to be a great production!

    OK buddy. I forgot to say in my last communication that both your writing talent and your powers of observation, revealed within it, are quite outstanding. DEFINITELY you have a consistent way with words that brings what you have witnessed fully ALIVE to your reader!

    Take care and God bless to the max, the gifts He has given you. Amen.

    • williamstafford

      Thanks for the comment, Bryan. There are clips of Pearl & Dave on YouTube, and there was a radio version on the BBC, which might still be available online. It’s worth tracking down.

      I am attending the opening night of Far From The Madding Crowd (this Friday) but if it’s any good (what do I mean, ‘if’?) I’ll be returning later in the run, so perhaps our paths can be engineered to cross after all!

      Thanks for the kind words about my writing. It’s funny to get a review of a review but I’m not complaining!

      All the best.

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