Some performances defy genre and this production features elements of solo theatre, sketch comedy and stand-up. Essentially, it’s a one-person play about gender identity but that description does Grace and its writer/performer Katie Reddin-Clancy a disservice.
Grace is an ambitious undertaking from a talented performer.
With an opening that feels like character stand-up, Reddin-Clancy quickly establishes themselves as having solid comedy chops with the character of Sheryl, an extremely British middle-class theatre manager stuck with trying to explain why the act we’re here to see isn’t yet on stage. With many a witty aside and rambling opinions on everything from Brexit politics to dating, Sheryl is an engaging character and, when her part is over, I’m sad to see her go. We are then introduced to more personalities that fill in the story of Zora, the performer we’re supposedly here to see but who is suffering a personal crisis backstage as this will be their first public appearance as a woman since being forced to play the male roles in her long-established double act with the late Grace.
Whilst making an important statement about gender fluidity and the various barriers (both social and personal) that can come with such a situation Grace is a brave work. However, at times I found the narrative hard to follow and the changes between characters were occasionally clunky. The last third of the piece begins to meander and the finale is nowhere near as strong as the opening.
Grace is an ambitious undertaking from a talented performer and I’m sure that, with some more development, this will be a powerful and provocative piece of theatre. I’ll definitely be there to see that show when it comes.