A triumphant come-back for sell-out performer Rebecca Perry. Following the rave reviews for her debut Fringe performance,
You can’t help but find yourself routing for this butter-wouldn’t-melt heroine and all the adventures she has planned.
We catch up with Joanie at a very exciting juncture in her life, gone are the coffeeshop days - she’s finally going to put her degree in anthropology and earth sciences to good use. Not only that but she’s going to be working for her all-time hero, Jane Goodall, in Tanzania of all places! With chimpanzees! Things couldn’t be looking better for Joanie right now. So Joanie packs her bags, bids adieu to her friends and family and boards a plane to Tanzania. With nothing more than a tent on stage Perry creates the cast of supporting characters, the props, the scenery, the sights, smells and feelings - the heat so viscerally described we too could be standing in a rainforest - all with her words and our imaginations. Then just before we think she can’t give anymore we hear her voice, an absolutely exquisite mezzo, as she performs a host of original songs with panache. A masterclass in solo-performance, Adventures of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl is delightfully quirky and magnificently clever.
Perry is a real one-of-a-kind; it would be easy to walk into this show expecting a sort of spoken-word/stand-up hybrid but this performance is its own kind of beast. A very fluffy, happy, excitable beast. Like a puppy. Perry has a puppy-like enthusiasm in every word she says, a natural storyteller, there isn’t a word not emoted, a move not perfectly executed. Her physical comedy is exquisite, and her ability to delineate different characters, time, and places through subtle but entirely consistent shifts in posture, through tone, and with only a step to the left or right is formidable. It is funny, not uproariously so, but a light chuckle from the audience is continuous almost throughout as Joanie sweetly spars with herself and other characters.
Ultimately, your enjoyment of this show will come down to taste. It can’t be faulted technically, as an actress and singer Perry is flawless. The show does begin to feel a little over-staged after a while, and the fourth wall is resolutely and permanently erected, distancing the audience from Perry - a little unusual for such typical fringe-theatre fare. Perhaps it had moments of being a little sickly-sweet, but it was far from nauseating, and you can’t help but find yourself routing for this butter-wouldn’t-melt heroine and all the adventures she has planned.