Beverley - A One Woman Show | What's On
BEVERLEY - Tristan Bates Theatre
Beverley wears short skirts to work because "If I wore a grey suit nobody would look at me." Pleasure-loving and attention-seeking, she spends her nights getting high in a club with her friends and getting laid in her flat with anyone she likes. Craving something more lasting, she buys a new kitchen. But that isn't enough.
Natasha Langridge's writing and directing debut is a drily humorous short monologue. Over a series of countless brief scenes Beverley (Valerie Frances) describes her life of working, porn-watching, having sex and partying with almost shocking but refreshing openness: "I only want to see the fucking, sucking bits", she says of a video. Despite the candour, the financial independence and the amorality, she is not actually so liberated - when a man she picks up turns out to be a selfish and ignorant lover, she can't tell him to get out. And her desperate promiscuity and hectic lifestyle only cover up an inner loneliness and a desire to love and be loved.
While its underlying plot may not be the most innovative, the immediate action of this piece is vibrant, passionate and terribly compelling. Langridge's script is tautly written and subtly shifts from the conversational to the lyrical, and she adds piquancy and interest with a few unexpected twists in the shape of a strange boyfriend and his family. Her characterisation, not only of Beverley but also of him and his sister, is sharp, detailed and well-observed.
The extremely short scenes work very well, giving maximum impact with contrasting tone and action, holding the audience's attention (always a tremendous feat in a monologue) and allowing maximum flexibility in the temporal frame of events. Langridge directs skilfully, with a good use of the space, prioritising movement, keeping the lighting simple and utilising a modest but versatile set - a table which represents variously a bed, a sofa, a podium and a chair.
Valerie Frances, in her first role in London, gives a very assured and impassioned performance, moving easily between the scenes' rapid changes of tone and movement, dancing on the table in a club scenario one moment, simulating sex the next, then pacing the floor in a more subdued mode. In Beverley both she and Langridge make debuts which, noteworthy as they are in their evident ability, demonstrate an even greater potential.
Reviewed by Alix Buscovic