Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, Wednesday 9th May, 2018
It’s a real treat to be able to see Maddie Rice reprise the hit one-woman show, three years since I first enjoyed it in Birmingham. Since then, the TV version starring the show’s writer, Phoebe Waller-Bridge materialised, opening the show out to six half-hour episodes – each of them brilliant, but it is refreshing to return to the original format of just over an hour, one actor, one chair… The simplicity of the presentation is deceptive. This is a highly sophisticated piece of storytelling, and Waller-Bridge’s script still feels fresh and funny as ever.
Rice interacts with pre-recorded voices at times but mostly she delivers both sides of a range of conversations, switching in and out of characters in the blink of an eye, while providing asides as narrator. It’s a dazzling display with precision and impeccable comic timing. Rice is expressive in many ways. Sometimes it’s a look, a mere shift of the eyeballs. Sometimes it’s her entire stance. Director Vicky Jones ensures it’s always the optimum expression, pacing the exchanges to perfection, allowing for reaction time among the snappy delivery and moments of reflection among the rapid-fire anecdotes. Elliott Griggs’s subtle lighting signals shifts in mood, location and timeline.
It’s laugh-out-loud funny stuff as our narrator, seemingly without filter, recounts her experiences, sexual and otherwise, and yet it’s as endearing as it is outrageous. Amid the funny stories, tragedy and pathos surface as we learn of mistakes made and we come to understand the excesses of her behaviour, the destructive spiral she is in.
The hour flies by in Rice’s entertaining company and virtuoso performance, and I’m left trying to think of a better one-person show, and I fail to come up with one that comes close.
My original review from 2015 can be found here.