Lesley Joseph as Stella in Singular Women
The King's Head Theatre
Where: Inner London
29 September 2003 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews Earlier this year, Stewart Permutt had a hit at the King's Head with a solo monologue for one woman, performed by Unsuspecting Susan Celia Imrie, but this revival (at the same address) of the plural monologues of his earlier , first staged on the Edinburgh Fringe in 1991, reveals a playwright still grappling with reconciling the tensions between form and content. Singular Women
Permutt has a vivid way of compressing a tidy amount of character information in a short time span, and these four little comic vignettes do come to variously touching life. But there's also an inevitable predictability to the way they unfold as a secret, big or small, is gradually revealed. With four characters conveyed in the same playing time that it took Permutt to animate just one in the other play, there's also inevitably less development to each.
That said, however,
is definitely worth seeing for the supremely skilful performance(s) of Singular Women Lesley Joseph as the assembled ladies: a deceased comic actor's surviving partner, who has just published a biography of him; a shop assistant who's been happily selling Belgian chocolates for the last ten years, with only one day off for a family funeral (others took place on Sundays, so she didn't have to miss work); a primary schoolteacher with a secret; and a 48-year-old sometime actress who's career has suddenly stalled after an act of violence during a run of Humpty Dumpty in which she was playing the title role.
Joseph gives an acting masterclass in each impeccably differentiated turn, registered physically in modest changes of clothing or hair, but emotionally in a much wider register of flickering emotions. Under
Lawrence Till's direction, she invests these women with tenderness, truth and heartache.
- Mark Shenton
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