Ingrid Oliver: Speech!

Ingrid Oliver delivers an hour of speeches in Speech! From a TED talk to the ramblings of a right-wing shock-jock, and all manner of voices in between, the connecting thread between all of the scenes is public speaking – the voices we hear, whether we want to or not. There’s a rich variety to Oliver’s characters, ranging from the not-at-all confident to the supremely self-assured.

The hour speeds by with the giddy glee of a toboggan on a particularly steep slope

There’s a very elegant joke about Brexit which – now that Oliver has done it, seems obvious. That, and a passage from a ‘woke’ valley girl, and a student council leader discussing safe spaces and the like, make Speech! feel like a very vital hour, only possible in this year: it will certainly feel relevant to anyone who woke up on the morning of the election (either one) with a dull sense of disbelief and horror.

We’re presented with a version of Katie Hopkins who’s presumably taken charm lessons from Julia Hartley-Brewer, and a workshop leader who doubtless will send shivers of horrified recognition down many spines. There’s a great joke about the rich variety of politicians in the Tory government, and neat sideswipes at the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos which hint at a bristling and dismayed anger hidden under the gags. But rather than let the rage take over, Oliver makes a suggestion that’s seemingly inspired by MP Jo Cox’s most famous quote.

It’s certainly possible that a certain portion of the audience may have bought a ticket on the strength of her TV appearances, and while Oliver doesn’t indulge the fans, there is at least a brief Doctor Who reference to satisfy the appetite. The hour speeds by with the giddy glee of a toboggan on a particularly steep slope, and Oliver comes across as the sort of mate that you’d want to spend an evening with, sinking a bottle of wine together and, crucially – not actually putting the world right – but embracing all that is right and wonderful about the world we already have. It’s a passionate, cheerful and very funny hour. Ingrid Oliver’s Speech demands to be heard: preach, sister, preach.

Reviews by Andrew Allen

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★★★★
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★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Ingrid Oliver returns with her debut solo show featuring an eclectic mix of characters, all giving the speech of their lives. From a teary Oscar acceptance speech to a TED talk, from a right wing politician's rant to a bridal toast, these people have a lot to say and they are giving it both barrels. Co-creator and star of Watson and Oliver (BBC Two), as seen on Doctor Who and Plebs. 'A heady mix of good writing and committed performances' (Guardian). 'Ingrid Oliver can really act' (Independent). 'Original writing, superb acting' (TheArtsDesk.com).