Bush Theatre Autumn 2019; Ambassadors Theatre Spring 2020
In his day job as a
bartender, comedian Richard Gadd gave a lonely-looking woman a free
cup of tea, and found himself with a mad stalker. (The title is her
pet name for him, whose disturbing significance is eventually
She followed him around,
left thousands of e-mails, texts
and voice mail messages, alternately declared her undying love and
vicious hatred, targeted his family and girlfriend, and generally
made his life hell for several years.
With the uncanny
the deeply disturbed, she was able to attack him precisely at his
most vulnerable points, his uncertainty about his sexuality and his
insecurities as a performer.
Worse even than the
constant barrage was
the effect on his own mental health, as 'Why me?' began to give way
to 'Do I somehow deserve this?'
This is the story that
Gadd tells in
his 75-minute monologue, and it is presumably true, if possibly
structured for dramatic clarity and effect. (A Google reference he
sends us to doesn't exist.)
But it's not a play.
Art is not
reportage. Even if based on actual incident, it has somehow to shape
that incident into something that resonates beyond itself.
has to have some reason to be told, and 'Because it's true' is not
Gadd the author has not
found any meaning or significance to
his experience other than that it happened, and Gadd the performer –
however sympathetic we may feel toward him – never becomes anything
more than a guy in a pub telling us his problems.
Gadd is personable,
his performance is energetic and, under Jon Brittain's direction, he
makes effective use of projections and recorded voices.
But Baby Reindeer never answers the essential question of any performance piece: Why is this man telling this to me?
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Review - Baby Reindeer - Bush Theatre 2019