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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Shoe Lady
Royal Court Theatre   March 2020

Part demonstration of the fragility of ordinary life and part affirmation of the ultimate indestructibility of the human spirit, E. V. Crowe's new play is attractive mainly as an opportunity to spend just over an hour in the company of a talented and personable performer.

In what is almost a solo show three other actors play the largely silent Everyone Else Katherine Parkinson plays Viv, a wife, mother and estate agent.

On her way to work one day she loses a shoe and spends the next two days hobbling about as that one accident starts her life collapsing around her. She loses a sale, and then her job, and then begins to lose her hold on reality.

And yet she soldiers on. Viv is not particularly resourceful it never even occurs to her to buy a new pair or brave or even very bright. But, like Winnie in Beckett's Happy Days, she goes on because she simply can't imagine not going on.

And, as in Beckett, there is a kind of heroism in that, and a reassurance that, if Viv can survive, so can we.

Clearly very much depends on the actor at the centre of this play. Katherine Parkinson may be best known to TV audiences for comic roles (The IT Crowd) but she has also succeeded in Chekhov.

She finds all the comedy in Crowe's script but also invests her role with a great deal of warmth, presenting in both the pathos of Viv's intellectual limitations and her dogged refusal to acknowledge defeat full reason for us to love, support and recognise a common humanity with the character.

I may be overpraising the play with the comparison to Beckett at his best there are a few too many loose ends and digressions even in this short script. But it is a worthy companion piece, and doubly worthy as a vehicle for its central actor.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review -  Shoe Lady - Royal Court Theatre 2020
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