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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Kiki Kendrick’s irresistible one-woman show is a fantastically energetic and brilliantly observed autobiography of an auditionee. Tracing her acting history from drama school, where she was bluntly (if, as it turned out, accurately) informed that saucy tarts were her most effective niche, through dozens of call-backs, castings and disastrous networking, Kendrick’s production offers a hearty, candid and often hilarious view of the cruel world of show business.

Kendrick is an immediately likeable performer, and her tendency to allow anecdotes to run to the risqué and inappropriate, which proved her undoing in many of the auditions she recalls, creates a warm and sociable atmosphere, in which even those who lack her first-hand experience as a jobbing actor are sure to find identifiable. As she relates the often farcical extents to which actors must go to seize the attention of casting directors, she avoids self indulgence, score-settling and name dropping, and allows her passion for performance to shine through

The show benefits greatly from Kendrick’s willingness to discuss the darker and more difficult periods of her life, including the death of her father, gives the show a real depth, and belies the apparently slight nature of its subject matter. Though the structure, in which each anecdote falls into a similar punchline-driven sequence, could perhaps be revised to improve the cohesion and fluidity of the narrative, NEXT! is a charming production. The inspired final section, in which Kendrick displays a showreel of her best (and worst) moments on television is a reminder that talent and determination can win out in the end.

- Stewart Pringle


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