A ‘Unicorn’ of Solo Performance

Gigi gives a four star review to ‘Unicorn’ at the Arcola Theatre’s Studio 2, directed by the fantastic Tom Brennan and performed by the magical Alice Lamb.

This post may contain mature or challenging content.

I was very lucky to have the chance to watch this play, directed by American Theatre Arts Rose Bruford graduate Tom Brennan, as a graduating 3rd year student of the same programme. First of all, Studio 2 at The Arcola Theatre is a perfect venue for this piece, the dim, walled surroundings giving atmosphere to a rollercoaster journey. 

Alice Lamb, as Andrea is a delight. She takes us through Andrea’s extraordinary life from frustrated, naive yet sexually curious to a woman of liberation, despite her trauma potentially being a catalyst to more self destructive actions.

Tom Brennan’s direction made the piece constantly engaging, visually exciting and made room for the piece to flow and keep a perfect pacing. We were constantly focused and with Andrea in her narrative with how Brennan utilised the stage space to create visually exciting and dynamic movement. What was genius was Amy Daniels’ lighting design- with limited rigging was incredibly evocative of the surroundings and more dream sequence moments.

The writing was real, relatable and for the younger crowd in the audience, packed a punch - as audience members laughed in second hand cringe, giggled because they resonated with Andrea and groaned at the thought of exploring what the character did. Sam Potter is a playwright to look out for.

The only issue I found with this show was the use of trauma being a catalyst or subconscious trigger for sexual exploration. I’d love to have seen more ownership taken of Andrea’s enjoying sex parties and more experimental sex being purely for her pleasure and desire, rather than viewed as a symptom of her past trauma. That being said, it was clearer at certain points that it wasn’t her exploration but her desire to venture into more dangerous, unsafe territory within sex, that really was because of her grief which I do think is more realistic and less shaming of that lifestyle which is what Andrea would have disliked. Perhaps in a future version of this play, that differentiation can be explored. 

However, this play really was something special. Vulgar, brilliantly relatable (in some ways!) and a truly important piece for any female bodied creative to see

Author

Gigi Downey

Gigi Downey Contributor

I am a third year actor at Rose Bruford College as well as a director, musician and writer. After completing my Gold Arts Award in February 2018 at 16, I joined my Arts Award organisation Babylon Arts as a steward and duty manager and I've done other teaching and facilitation work as well as working in theatre such as guest experience, bartender, box office admin and on the stage. I'm currently in the United States studying musical theatre and preparing to write a dissertation on, in broad terms, how theatre explores consent and desire.

https://www.voicemag.uk/interview/7047/where-are-they-now-with-gigi-downey

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