A one woman show, Proxy delves into the lives of mother and daughter Dee Dee and Gypsy, two women from the southern states of America. Both parts are played by Caroline Burns Cooke – Dee Dee a protective mother who believes she’s doing the best for her daughter, and Gypsy, a sick child who just wants to live. Disastrous consequences are predictably ahead, the tension increasing by the minute with the introduction of online religious boyfriends, watchful neighbours and mental diseases contracted by proxy.

Emotionally, Cooke’s performance is astounding.

Emotionally, Cooke’s performance is astounding. She nails every line, every feeling, exhibiting each tiny thought and reaction without hesitancy or effort. With the sheer volume of lines, and the pace with which the characters talk, it is undeniably impressive; Cooke makes it seem like the things she is saying are a story she is telling for the first time. That said, it is sometimes a little difficult to differentiate between the characters that Cooke plays, especially once a third is introduced. Though her accent is spot on, the mannerisms of the three parts are never distinct enough to make it clear that different people are speaking. A greater effort could have been made to show the age difference between Gypsy and Dee Dee, both vocally and through Cooke's physicality.

The staging of a one person show is something that is difficult to get right. Contriving movement is never advisable, but often performances can feel static. Director Colin Watkeys admittedly doesn’t have much space to play with, but to have Cooke merely alternate between sitting and standing when changing characters is disappointingly basic.

There are a few moments of excellence peppered into a script that otherwise deserves a revisit. The post-opening set-up delivered by Dee Dee is good for context, but could easily be trimmed in order to get more quickly to the meat of the story. This might allow for more time at the end of the play, where development of a certain third act plot strand feels a little rushed. Luckily, the story is one worth hearing, and a slight refocus coupled with some more directorial flair could spell fireworks for Proxy.

Reviews by Beverly Sproats

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The Blurb

Written and performed by Caroline Burns Cooke and directed by Colin Watkeys. The creators of the five-star, Argus Angel Award-winning production And the Rope Still Tugging Her Feet, inspired by the Kerry Babies saga. 'Dark, enthralling, and unremittingly entertaining' (Argus, Brighton). 'Nuanced and compelling' ( 'Powerfully moving' (Scotsman). In her new play, Caroline Burns Cooke takes on Munchausen, murder and living by proxy. Inspired by a true story, Gypsy is imprisoned in a world of fantasy, invalided and infantilised by her mother Dee Dee, until an online boyfriend offers her a way out.

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