Tag Archives: The Soho Theatre

Bridget Christie: An Ungrateful Woman @sohotheatre

Five minutes before the show starts, I am at the bar for the ritual pre-gig decanting of beer into scratchy plastic cup. “You can take your glass into the theatre, no problem” the bartender says. As I gather my drink and coat, she asks “Bridget Christie?” I nod. She gives me the most sincere thumbs-up I’ve seen since the 90s.

Following 2013’s Edinburgh Award-winning A Bic for Her, Christie’s star has been very much in the ascendant. I was lucky enough to see an early version of An Ungrateful Woman before this year’s festival. That night, Christie was frenetic, forgetful, significantly over-time, but still wonderfully engaging. Three months later, the set is polished and pithy. If anything,  a little longer would be better. Another quarter-hour inside Bridget’s inspiringly skewed world of inconsiderate bookshop farters and limpet-crotched supermodels would still leave an audience wanting more.

The show opens with an extended riff on the interviewer who, after her 2013 Edinburgh success, asked what her next show would be about, now she’d ‘done feminism’. It ends with a righteous Christie, patiently explaining to the audition panel for a yoghurt advert how their script facilitates rape-culture. Depressingly it seems that 21st century sexism is a veritable goldmine of funny/sad observation, certainly enough to merit a second hour of stand-up and delightfully a second series of Radio 4’s Minds the Gap airing this coming January.

Christie comprehensively rubbishes the idea that feminism was last year’s story, taking in swipes at Nigel Farage (a particularly committed comedy performance, “he never breaks character”), a grudging acknowledgement that Michael Gove might actually have done the right thing, once (but then ruined it), and a pitch perfect dissection of Russell Brand’s emptily-verbose brand of messianic laddishness.

While retaining the silliness and play-acting from earlier shows, Christie is also increasingly self-reflexive in her comedy. In a bit about Steve Davis, she acknowledges that his supposedly sexist comment was taken out of context, but still gets away with a mime of him playing snooker with his penis. Later she implores the audience to reject plastic surgery and cherish the uniqueness of their vaginas, “like snowflakes made of gammon”.

There are ideas to spare here. Presentation can feel a little rushed even. Hopefully some of the jokes will get a bit more room to breathe in the radio series. The quick-fire approach pays dividends when it comes to more challenging material, however. A passage imagining a girl cheering for ‘good old British sexism’ as she is followed home by a leering gang of men treads the line between ridiculous and unbearable. And I’d struggle to think of another stand-up who could (respectfully) discuss FGM without fatally puncturing the mood.

In a pleasing early gag, Christie jokes that she was frustrated at A Bic for Her’s success, as she was hoping for a flop so she could retire and live off her husband. On the evidence of this accomplished set, that seems less likely than ever.

Bridget Christie is appearing downstairs at the  Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London, W1D 3NE on the following dates:

Mon 3 Nov – Fri 21 Nov. Fri 2 – Sat 10 & Mon 19 – Sat 24 Jan, 9.30pm

Tickets can be booked via the Soho Theatre website

‘A Walk on Part’ @ The Soho Theatre

Chris Mullin’s diaries on the fall of New Labour brought to the stage.

It may seem an unlikely subject for a night’s theatrical entertainment but A Walk On Part, Michael Chaplin’s adaptation and distillation of Chris Mullin’s political diaries is funny, absorbing and cracks along at a terrific pace.

John Hodgkinson’s portrayal brings Chris Mullin’s honesty, humanity and self-effacing wit to bear on the follies, mistakes and, to Mullin’s mind at least, the successes of the New Labour years. The audience are guided from the heady days of May 1997’s landslide election victory to the fall of New Labour in 2010 by way of 9/11, George W. Bush, WMD, the Iraq war, MPs’ expenses and the financial crisis as Mullin progresses from backbencher to junior minister and back again.

The other four members of the cast – Sara Powell, Tracy Gillman, Hywel Morgan and Jim Kitson – between them bring to life a vast number of characters ranging from ‘JP’ (John Prescott) to ‘The Man’ (Tony Blair) and Clare Short to Mullin’s wife, Ngoc. Some of the impressions are spot on: the audience particularly enjoyed a demonstration of how long it takes for a smile to get from Gordon Brown’s brain to his lips.

A Walk On Part does not just concentrate on events in Westminster but is peppered with the less glamorous concerns of a constituency MP (Sunderland South) as well as providing touching vignettes from family life including Mullin’s wife’s observation that he’ll need more than one suit when he becomes Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (whew!).

Staging, by Max Roberts, is simple but effective. A screen at the back of the stage flashes up iconic images such as the planes smashing into the twin towers and key dates to keep us anchored in the story’s timeline. The other cast members weave in and out of John Hodgkinson’s performance seamlessly, making the whole seem effortless and shorter than its two hours.

Whatever you think of New Labour’s politics, A Walk On Part offers an insight, albeit an unfeasibly gentle one, to the Blair and Brown years as well as to the potentially more interesting character of Chris Mullin, himself.

For the performance, audience members are seated at tables, cabaret style and, while this may take some getting used to, it does not hinder enjoyment especially as there is a bar in the same room. All in all, a fun night out in a terrific venue.

Performances run until December 10th at 7:30pm with matinees on Thursdays and Saturdays at 2:30pm. There are no performances on Sundays. Tickets are generally £15 full price, £12.50 concessions (students, disabled, seniors, Westminster residents and unwaged) although some Fridays and Saturdays are £20 and £17.50 respectively and matinees are £12.50 full price and £10, concessions.

The Soho Theatre is at 21 Dean Street |Only 20-minutes walk from Birkbeck.

[Published initially 22/11/2011]