Review: The Very Perry Show @ Hope Theatre, Islington

Some people collect stamps, or garden gnomes. But Kate Perry, as she tells us at the beginning of her show, collects people. Through a series of monologues, she is going to introduce us to some of the people she has collected.

The Hope Theatre (above the Hope and Anchor pub) in Islington is a suitable venue for The Very Perry Show, as its small blackbox intimacy is reminiscent of the Edinburgh venues that Perry made her name in.

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It is long overdue that I publish this review of a highly enjoyable evening comprised of five strikingly different but consistently well-executed monologues, ranging from the endearing to the absurd. Perry showcases a superb ability to inhabit a wide variety of characters, taking on their voices and telling their unconventional stories. We are introduced first to 75-year-old Carmel, a Northern Irish widow obsessed with Coronation Street’s Ken Barlow. In a particularly memorable moment, she manages to make a joke which is both about Mormons and 9/11. She is also very intent on maintaining that she is ‘not a racist’, and thus accepting of her manicurist’s gender-fluidity. Next, we get to know 12-year-old Susie Headley Simmons. This delightful yet increasingly disturbing personality is a precocious posh little girl whose home videos documenting her mother’s decline into madness (the cause of which, it is implied, is her father beginning a homosexual relationship with a bicycle repair man) go viral on YouTube. We then meet Mary Malarkey, a tough, farm-raised young woman visiting her (supposedly) dead father in hospital. Equally strange and comical are Perry’s subsequent portrayals of a very annoying six-year-old on a plane to America and an Amish woman recounting an illicit sexual experience.

Though it would have been nice to see Perry take on people of the opposite gender, the absence of male characters is not really felt. And though some characters get more laughs than others, Perry slips into each in a chameleon-like way, commenting on the transitions in her own voice.

A delightful exhibition of skilled character comedy, this show is refreshingly light on the political jokes. It contains something for everyone. Over in less than an hour, it seems the perfect way to spice up an evening at the pub. Basically, it’s a guaranteed great time.

‘The Very Perry Show’ played at the Hope Theatre until March 13.

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