Pauline is a one woman show, written and performed by the talented Sophie Bentinck. Pauline is the name of Sophie’s grandmother, who’s life and suicide she explores with us throughout the show. This production is not all doom and gloom however, as Bentinck brings both her mother and herself into the writing mix, delivering hilarious insights into the private writings of the varying generations. In this way, layers of reality are created which culminate in forging an honest, comforting setting which invites us into the truth of humanity, our minds and our familial relationships.

A charming, heart-warming watch

Bentinck rules the stage playing both her grandmother and her younger self, using different accents and costumes to distinguish between the two. She is captivating as Pauline, shifting from reading diary entries to performing whole scenes with no reference to a ‘script’; this makes us feel as if we are viewing real-time snippets of her life. The sections where she reads from her teenage diary with a hilarious ‘road-man’ accent are a joy to watch, and provide an unashamed glance at the youthful intensity of emotion, concerning first loves and the insecurities that come with trying to understand oneself. We are made to feel wholly understood by Bentinck, as she searches for the truth about her life from that of the women who came before her. The play flows with absolute ease, linking each life and generation together with the understanding that comes from mutual experience. Bentinck even acknowledges the politics surrounding sharing the most deep and dark parts of ourselves, battling with her fear of being perceived as narcissistic, or whether Pauline’s struggle with mental health is her story to tell. This really demonstrates the self doubt we all experience, and whilst disturbing, comforts us further through the show’s own self awareness.

From a microphone desk, a chest and a small tree which represents Pauline, Bentinck utilises the small space excellently, using carefully selected props which add just enough visual prompts for us to feel totally enveloped in her story. The lights change with the mood, and the music helps illustrate the varying timelines clearly to make the production well rounded. The use of voice-overs introduces us to the women not onstage in a way that immerses us completely in the setting, the lives of the three generations, their inner thoughts and opinions. Whilst some sections feel slightly dragged out and awkward, the overall raw honesty of the show drowns these hiccups out. It is a memorialisation of the true identity of her family.

Pauline is a charming, heart-warming watch which one would regret missing.

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Reviews by Eleanor Sumner

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The Blurb

A new comedy drama about finding your nan’s suicide note by award-winning writer and performer Sophie Bentinck. Pauline is the brutally honest and joyfully hilarious story of three generations of women in one family – and of the writer who went digging in the secrets file in order to bring them all on stage. 'Captivating' (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). 'Storytelling at its finest' **** ( Winner – Breakthrough Memoir 2022. Runner Up – Screenshot 2020. Directed by Fred Wienand (Twelfth Night, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre) and presented together with producer Emma Blackman (Bobby & Amy, Fringe First Award 2019).

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