Greeting each and every audience member with a handshake after they take their seats may seem like you’re overdoing the niceties, but we soon find out that Lucy Pearman’s
A really upbeat show, with the happy ending to the maid’s dilemma making it a fun start to the Festival day.
Our hostess explains that, due to some ancient custom, she is required to select the nicest cabbage she can find to present to the household. But she must be sure to avoid the dreaded rotten tomato and all the while ensure that her ‘dark side’ doesn’t come out! If this sounds bewildering, then add the diverse musical stylings of Soulja Boy and Luke Kelly into the mix and you’ll begin to get an idea of the terrain the audience is to negotiate. Pearman thrives in the chaos, getting plenty of laughs as she gently pokes fun at spectators’ responses to her demands.
Shows like this live or die by the quality of audience participation, but Pearman is masterful in steering her collaborators along. The set pieces she lines up (a horse ride to the local village, judging the entries in a bonnie cabbage competition and a telephone call from the Lady of the house among them) are designed to fail, her clownish attempts to wrestle some order out of the situations she has designed the source of some of the best passages of the show.
Eventually, though, the stresses put upon her by her ghoulish bosses causes her dark side to burst through. The stages goes dark for a few moments before we’re exposed to the over-burdened maid’s alter-ego. It all happens so fast that it’s difficult to take in at once, but this demon apparition is the result of one of the best costume changes you’ll see this August. And in an instant, it’s gone again.
Pearman revels in the freedom offered by a relatively unstructured show, and shows real skill in bringing the audience along with her. However, it does suffer a bit from being overly chaotic at times. Try as Pearman might to keep things afloat there is a sense that maybe a little more investment in the bare bones of the narrative might pay dividends.
Having said this, it’s a really upbeat show, with the happy ending to the maid’s dilemma making it a fun start to the Festival day.