Review: Superhoe (Royal Court)

Nicôle Lecky’s one-woman show focuses on Sasha who is intent on realising her dream

 Nicole Lecky in Superhoe
Nicole Lecky in Superhoe
© Helen Murray 2019

Nicôle Lecky's one-woman show takes the audience behind the perfect Instagram in a frank, funny, and at times devastating piece which explores class, familial relations, and making ends meet with only your phone.

Twenty-four year-old Sasha dreams of releasing her own EP. But with no job, a boyfriend who doesn't call, and still living at home with her family in Plaistow, she's a little further away from where she wants to be. When family ties strain, leaving Sasha homeless, she falls into a way to make her life into more than she'd ever wanted – and some things you wouldn't want to dream of.

She's the Superhoe of the provocative title and Lecky has the audience hooked on her words. Playing a multitude of characters as she recounts events, her accent slips between Jamaican, northern, and East End with ease and without creating stereotypes. She knows how to keep the audience on her side with just a backward glance, and her comic timing is superb.

Songs break up the dialogue, crafted to mirror Sasha's life change. The first few songs are played for laughs with lyrics such as "can you please pick up the phone?". Money rains down on the audience, and there are even lyrics on screen so we can sing along. We take Sasha semi-seriously, absorbed by the fun of these pieces before the seriousness of online sex work begins to sink in. Lecky's performance is self-assured, but at moments it cracks. Inside is a young girl who still has her soft toy for comfort.

In this piece, sex work isn't judged or made fun of, when it could easily slip down that path. Jade Lewis' direction ensures we don't see any of it either – that we know what's happening is enough. Superhoe also suggests how hidden it can be – "How do you think she got all that Gucci?" – Sasha sings about Instagram models. It's a subtle probe at the online influencer lifestyle we all consume.

Chloe Lamford opts for a minimal kitsch set design: pastel walls and floor take us from childhood bedroom to fancy apartment, while a flashing ATM placed in the wall deposits shades and a microphone, and a hot pink suitcase stands in the corner. Again, there's a subtle element of cartoon; the dream life. Ewan Jones Morris' projections see bank transfers pop up on the screen: "You broke, bish!" we're told, and often asked "do you want to fulfil your dream?"

Superhoe is a smart commentary about these dreams and the routes we may take to fulfil them, with a smashing performance from a talented writer.