Simon Callow in Tuesday at Tescos

There is definitely a reason why Simon Callow has his name at the beginning of the title of this beautifully performed monologue. Its a real treat to see such a grand performance from a man who commands the stage with ease. In my opinion that the reason that the show has not been so well received by some critics is that perhaps Callow is so good in the role that he makes it look easy. The stage is intriguingly set with an enormous circular light, a piano and a tree behind a piece of perplex glass. Our heroine enters from stage left and proceeds to tell us of her regular routine of taking his grouchy father to Tesco’s on a Tuesday. A fairly monotonous task for most people but for transvestite Pauline it’s a heartbreaking, degrading journey as she tries to avoid the stares and bring some spark back into her deteriorating family relationship. It’s a bittersweet tale of an individual standing firmly for what she believes in despite the odds. Callow delves into the dialogue with relish. He truly does not miss a beat, explores every avenue of performance both physically and verbally and holds the audience in the palm of his hand for the entire running time. Despite a rather controversial subject matter, the performance has a universal appeal due to the ability of Callow to make an audience laugh or break their heart with a single glance. It certainly is the best performance I have seen this year and may very well be groundbreaking in its opportunity to alter people’s opinions of a lifestyle they may not fully understand. The monologue itself (adapted from a French play) is richly textured, using repetition to highlight both the routine of a typical Tuesday and Pauline’s insistence on remaining true to who she is. There is an unusual musical interlude that arrives on occasion and Callow dances sporadically, messily and sensually. I believe it represents the inner turmoil of the character and it’s a very unique way of crossing sections.Not so successful is the presence of the pianist, who appears to be composing the music as the play unfolds. It’s a nice element to the piece but too often the poor guy is left on-stage with nothing to do and it can distract a little from Callow. However, overall this is one of the finest pieces of theatre I have seen at the Fringe this year. The mixed reviews certainly haven’t kept the masses away but this has to go down as one of the most under-appreciated shows at the festival. From the rapturous applause at the plays’ inevitably sad (but still shocking) end, I have a feeling that the audiences who have been lucky enough to catch this performance might just side with me on this one.

Reviews by Stewart McLaren

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The Blurb

In a unique Edinburgh event, Simon Callow, one of Britain's greatest actors, stars as Pauline. Loving daughter. Carer. Transvestite. The British premiere of this sensational Moliere nominated new play that took Paris by storm.