The Queen of Lucky People – Review

May 1, 2014 | By | Reply More

✭✭✭✩✩    Cautionary whimsy

Eileen Nicholas as Patrice French in The Queen of Lucky People. Photo © Lesley Black

Eileen Nicholas as Patrice French. Photo © Lesley Black

A Play, A Pie and A Pint at the Traverse
Tue 29 April – Sat 3 May 2014
Review by Thom Dibdin

Whimsy runs right through Iain Heggie’s comic, cautionary tale of self delusion and social media use, at the Traverse all week as the last in the current season of lunchtime theatre.

Patrice French has taken early retirement from her admin job at the local technical college. She now seems to spend her days at home in her tenement flat, interacting on social media site Lucky People.

Performed with simple directness by Eileen Nicholas, Patrice’s online life will be horrifyingly recognisable to anyone who who has taken to Twitter, Facebook or some such social media site.

If it is not the all-consuming need to communicate online, it is the obsession with the quantifiable aspects of that online life.

Heggie has created an easily-recognisable and horribly realistic social media platform in Lucky People, perfect for the silver surfer generation. Just as Twitter has its retweets and Facebook its likes and friends, so Lucky People has its “buddies”, “lols” and “awesomes”.

The comedy of recognition is well observed and bang up-to-date. But as each layer of whimsy is peeled away, so another layer of reality is revealed about Patrice’s life.

Through Patrice’s Lucky People posts, her recollections of her mother and her comments on her real-life interactions with her best friend Helen and unnamed upstairs neighbour, Heggie reveals more and more of a fragile and complicated personality.

And as the truth is revealed, so the depths and enormities of Patrice’s self-delusion become apparent.

It’s neatly done by Heggie, who makes masterful use of the different forms to drive his story on. The barking of a dog, for example, heard from Patrice’s upstairs neighbour’s flat grows from being an intrusion to become an integral part of the narrative without her having to leave the flat.

Emma Callander, directing her first play at the Traverse since taking over as Associate Director (this is her fourth Play Pie and a Pint production, though), succeeds in keeping the narrative moving swiftly forward.

Although the sometimes rapid slipping of time through Patrice’s fingers is marked in a slightly disconcertingly static fashion, Callander ensures that the increasing gravity of the narrative is handled with a real lightness of touch.

A splendidly comic production which is all the stronger for being rooted in recognisable reality and for refusing to be as judgemental as its protagonist.

Running time 55 mins.
Run ends Saturday 26 April 2014
Daily 1pm (also 7pm Fri)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street EH1 2ED
Tickets from the Traverse website on: www.traverse.co.uk

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