tue 09/08/2022

One-Woman Show review - Liz Kingsman's spot-on spoof | reviews, news & interviews

One-Woman Show review - Liz Kingsman's spot-on spoof

One-Woman Show review - Liz Kingsman's spot-on spoof

Comic does a deep dive into Fleabag territory

Liz Kingsman's show is chock-full of gagsWill Brembridge

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say. I'm not sure One-Woman Show, written and performed by comic, writer and actor Liz Kingsman, is an imitation of a solo show that catapulted another female actor-writer to worldwide fame, but it's imitation-adjacent in a spot-on spoof kind of way.

The elephant in the room for this wickedly funny hour is Phoebe Waller-Bridge's brilliant, zeitgeisty and deservedly lauded Fleabag, a play that I loved on its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013; it previewed at this theatre and later had a successful post-Fringe run on the same Soho stage. How's that for meta?

It's not just Fleabag that Kingsman spoofs in One-Woman Show, as there are many that could have inspired it. But she neatly skewers the sexually adventurous, ovaries-out tropes of modern womanhood depicted by some as she plays a nameless “woman stumbling through her twenties in a fiercely honest, darkly comic way”. No cliché of plot, characterisation, actors' artifice or ego-driven performance is left unexamined, while gag after gag – verbal, visual, props – is thrown in the mix.

Kingsman busies herself on stage before the play begins, fussing over a microphone and the camera recording the show which is, she tells us, to send to producers because she wants to make it in LA. There's no nudity “because I couldn't fit it in” – but is that a tease because female performers talk of being naked on stage as empowerment yet audiences know it's mostly just giving the lads a flash? Yes and no, for the hilarious, delayed pay-off to the line – when Kingsman pulls off her dungarees – is one of the best visual gags of the show.

Kingsman's aimless young woman works for an animal charity, and the story moves between present, past and surreal tenses as Kingsman introduces other characters. Actually they're more plot devices to service this shameless narcissist; her friend, who wails at one point “You’ve got to talk to me – it’s literally the only reason I’m here!”, Phil her unfeasibly tall love interest, and Dana, her boss, who acts like a Chorus as she gives knowing critiques of why this genre might be troublesome to some. Dana provides some real heft to the work, and lifts it above mere parody (good though it is).

Kingsman, until now best known as part of the sketch group Massive Dad, has made a witty and clever spoof that is endlessly entertaining and chock-full of gags; even a lighting change made me laugh out loud at one point. Directed by Adam Brace, One-Woman Show is a certifiable hit among comics and critics – two groups who don't always agree on what constitutes a five-star show – and its run at Soho Theatre has been extended, so I urge you to see to see what the fuss is about. You won't be disappointed.

Dana acts like a Chorus as she gives knowing critiques of why this genre might be troublesome to some

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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