Baby Reindeer by Richard Gadd 5***** - One4Review
one4review | On 17, Aug 2019
This show is most definitely theatre. Although tackling some similar territory to ‘Monkey see, Monkey do’, there is absolutely no release of the tension here. The show charts his relationship with Martha, a customer in a Holloway bar he worked in who subsequently began to stalk him. Taking us from their first meeting in 2013 giving her a free cup of tea, to the present day via sexual e-mails, turning up at his gigs, on his street and clogging his phone with hours of voicemails.
She is represented by a bar stool which spins eerily on a small revolve in the centre of the space, vacant and menacing at the same time. The story is told in the first person with palpable fury and torment. The writing is raw and relentless. It’s impossible to separate the show from the performer, making it feel as though we’re all sitting in this wound unsure whether it is cathartic or traumatizing.
The show grapples with issues of gender and mental health, throwing up a lot of uneasy questions; how would the police have handled the case if he’d been a woman and she’d been a man? When does the context justify a 25 year old guy beating up a 45 year old woman in public? At what point does a person with mental health issues become responsible for their actions? How should we alter our behaviour around those stuck in a delusion? There are no easy answers, it’s a muddy swamp and every decision feels like it’s the wrong one. What is more clear cut is the way in which her behaviour has affected his life and all within apparent ‘legal bounds’.
This show feels like the day in court that hasn’t happened in real life, her e-mails projected on the ceiling, played recordings of voicemails, recorded testimonies from his parents and his ex-girlfriend. By the end of the show I’m a puddle of a human being and well in need of a serious time out.
Reviewed by Sarah
18.25 & 23.55
Until 25th (not 20th)