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Repeat Offender


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.


Funny girl: Maddie Rice


Sit-Down Comedy


The Door, Birmingham REP, Wednesday 14th January, 2015


A tall chair stands at the centre of a square. It is on this minimalistic set that solo performer Maddie Rice for the most part remains seated – but this is by no means a static performance.

It begins with a disastrous job interview. Rice interacts with a pre-recorded male voice – the timing is exquisite. Her story unfolds and a picture builds of a chaotic, comical existence: she’s between breakups with her boyfriend, except this time we get the feeling that he won’t be back; she is meanwhile trying to pick up men for sex – the sexual talk is very frank and very, very funny; we are introduced to a host of characters: her sister, her dad, regular café customer Joe… Rice brings the story and the stage to engaging and entertaining life. She is an 18-certificate Miranda, but funnier.

What emerges from among the hilarious anecdotes and interactions is a touching portrait of grief and guilt. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s script crackles with comedy, character and brio. Directed by Vicky Jones, the energy of the piece draws us in and keeps us in and, thanks to a stellar performance from Maddie Rice, the chaotic narrator both makes us roar with laughter and touches our hearts. An entire audience gasps audibly to hear of the fate of a non-existent guinea pig – a testament to the power of the storytelling.

Well worth the effort of getting off your backside to go and see this actor sitting on hers.

Maddie Rice

Maddie Rice