Katie Reddin-Clancy’s solo show has the potential to be fantastic – with a delicious, sharply observed script that is slickly performed. It is a show that appropriately evades simple labels, a mix of character comedy, cabaret, variety, new writing, monologues, solo-show and theatre, all wrapped into one. The piece is charged with a social discussion point of the day, with a subtle exploration of gender, specifically when combined with performance identity and how that allows the imposition of illusion into reality. The work includes a variety of conflicting viewpoints. However, in the end it is difficult to see how it all hangs together as one piece.
A confusing if well-meaning show that is trying to make a point about lots of serious things.
Zora, is making her return to the stage after the collapse of her previous show The Grace and Archie Show, where her male alter ego, Archie, performed alongside his lover and the now deceased, Grace. Archie was created as way for Zora to get over her stage fright, but complexly became just as real in his own right when Grace fell for him, and not Zora as a whole.
Whilst we wait for Zora to arrive as she suffers from stage fright offstage; we are treated to a collection of colourful characters, from the stalling theatre manager, to Zora’s agent, to an amdram enthusiast who will take to the stage if it is left bare for too long. Each of these felt unique and fascinating and slyly funny in their own right. Reddin-Clancy has a knack for conjuring characters at a glance. Aided by beautiful costumes throughout, each was individual and different and clearly had a sense of character. However, some of the characters feel like tangents who don’t belong in this show. This is not to say the characters were not good, but their stories didn’t really cohere together clearly into one show.
Sadly, overall the different characters and jumping about in time, left a disjointed impresion, and made the piece hard to follow. After the impressive opening characters, and all the stalling, the audiences confrontation with Grace and the ending are not really worth the wait. It leaves us craving a satisfying ending - even a post-modern one. Whilst the piece is fractured, giving us multiple viewpoints, there is not really enough meaty material for us to draw our own conclusions in a truly post-modern way.
Grace is a confusing if well-meaning show that is trying to make a point about lots of serious things, but doesn't land them very clearly. If you have an interest in gender or vaudeville, or the entertainment industry’s poor treatment of performers, this is the show for you. Otherwise, see it after some more development.