Emily Woof's mesmerising one-woman show drew warm but often qualified responses in its Edinburgh run and recent stint on the South Bank – cavils like "it's a consummate audition piece" or "talent, charm and intelligence don't in themselves amount to genius." That's as maybe, but they're three extremely welcome qualities that seldom come together in anything like this measure. Woof's protagonist travels to Spain to work as a bar entertainer, encountering a passionate Geordie waiter and a compulsive-fantasist middle-aged Mediterranean vamp; she is jilted over the telephone (which also briefly has its say), and finally tuns into a boy.
Woof not only gets to play piano, dance flamenco and simulate sex both on and with a flying trapeze, but her story is studded with bits of Anna Karenina, Montaigne and classical metamorphosis myths as well as lambada, Gazza and Princess Di. It's a rich, shifting picture, and entirely dependent upon Woof's control and rapport to keep it scintillating. Her accomplishment in this respect has to be seen to be believed, and should be seen. If you've ever harboured any knee-jerk prejudices against theatre that tries to go beyond a narrative ABC, this intellectually and physically vibrant show (it operates both above and below the neck) will convert you.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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