sun 19/09/2021

Olga Koch, Soho Theatre review - personal, political and playful | reviews, news & interviews

Olga Koch, Soho Theatre review - personal, political and playful

Olga Koch, Soho Theatre review - personal, political and playful

What nationality and belonging mean

The comic was born in Russian but is now settled in the UKRachel Sherlock

Olga Koch – born in Russia to ethnic German parents, multilingual and now living in London – might fit into the group that Theresa May once dismissed as “citizens of nowhere”, whatever that phrase means.

But Koch turns that on its head in her new show as she examines nationality and belonging, and Homecoming is a terrific 60 minutes of personal storytelling and playful sexual politics, delivered with swagger.

The show was prompted by Koch recently getting her UK passport – surely a German one would be more useful? – and thereby taking the Life in the UK test, which erroneously suggests that the answer to the question: “What is the first thing you should do when moving to a new neighbourhood in the UK?” is “introduce yourself to your neighbours”. Clearly whoever wrote that has never lived in a big city.

Koch's accent, despite having lived in the UK for several years, is all-American, explained by the fact, she tells us, that she attended an American school in west London where diplomats and ex-pats send their children. This is some of her strongest material, describing how this little corner of the US was more American than the US itself, as everybody there behaved as if they were performing in a US high-school movie. She was rather geeky, she says, taking part in a mini United Nations debating club, which ensured its members retained their virginity until university, and she remembers some of the rather weird characters the school invited to give inspirational talks, not least the, er, hands-on sex ed specialist.

Talking of sex, Koch then discusses her own love life, describing what she calls her “sexual safari” – the variety of sex you have after coming out of a long-term relationship – before recounting her ambition to be a Hollywood star and appear in a James Bond film, which has so far been thwarted by not being convincing enough as an East European prostitute in auditions.

She also has some smart observations to make about the different attitudes to casual sex for men and women, and how sex toys are marketed.Koch makes a few subtle political points along the way and some astute observations about what Britishness means, and the show has clever callbacks. While some elements of Homecoming don't always flow smoothly from one to the next, in her third show Koch has fashioned another solidly entertaining hour.

She was rather geeky, taking part in a mini United Nations debating club

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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