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Liz Kingsman: ‘One-Woman Show’ review

Comedy, Character Soho Theatre , Soho Until Saturday February 5 2022
Recommended
5 out of 5 stars
Liz Kingsman, One Woman Show, 2022
Photo by Will Bremridge

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

This genius set of ‘Fleabag’-parodying metacomedy is the hottest ticket in London right now

Liz Kingsman’s sublimely theatrical hour of meta-comedy ‘One Woman Show’ both is and isn’t a merciless takedown of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s ubiquitous ‘Fleabag’.

On the one hand, yes, it’s a spot-on parody of Waller-Bridge’s magnum opus, from the gratuitous wank chat and sexual promiscuity to the single gal central character’s limited circle of friends with no past of their own, oddball place of work and kooky love interest. 

But on the other it’s not really about Waller-Bridge at all. Instead it’s about Kingsman, or a fictional version of her who is presented as a shallow hack desperately trying to ride on Waller-Bridge’s coattails.

The show is constantly interrupted by her fretting about the camera recording her show,  which in a meta twist is actually called ‘Wildfowl’: about ‘a woman stumbling through her twenties in a fiercely honest, darkly comic way’. The recording is for a big TV producer who can’t make it down to Soho Theatre, and Kingsman is clearly more bothered about the recording than us, and at one point demands the entire show be started over again because of a technical glitch.

It would probably still be funny but also rather cheap if you seriously thought Kingsman was laying into ‘Fleabag’ itself. But really ‘One Woman Show’ is an elaborate comedy about art and integrity, about a woman trying to rip off Waller-Bridge to get rich quick, while distractedly making asides that point out exactly what she’s doing from a technical perspective. And it is brilliant.

But there’s more to it that even that: on top of the ‘Fleabag’-isms there’s a loopy, absurdist sense of humour that feels like it’s all Kingsman’s own: it would be spoiling things to reveal the true identity of her hunky new love interest at the London Wetlands Centre (where she works), but let’s say that as a twist it is far to the left of anything she may be parodying. 

Ultimately Kingsman is her own woman. She may pose as a character trying to rip off somebody else’s shtick. But she is nothing like the posh, sultry PWB: her persona is a distracted, un-horny, somewhat bookish eccentric who has concocted an intricate hour of meta surrealism that’s both ruthlessly effective and charmingly off with the fairies. It’s less a show that stands on ‘Fleabag’s shoulders than one that skips around it, cackling to itself. 

Previously Kingsman was best known as one-third of the sketch troupe Massive Dad, and ‘One-Woman Show’ was apparently knocked out as an elaborate form of procrastination while she was supposed to be writing a film script. Undoubtedly it’s now going to change her life: the show has been praised to high heaven, and it is probably the single hottest ticket in the capital right now. At time of writing, an extra week of late-night shows had just been added, and will soon be gone. But even if you don’t bag a ticket, this is clearly not the last any of us have heard of Liz Kingsman, an early contender for 2022’s brightest star.

Details

Venue name: Soho Theatre
Venue website: www.sohotheatre.com
Venue phone: 020 7478 0100
Address: 21 Dean St
London
W1D 3NE
Transport: Tube: Tottenham Court Rd
Price: £20-£26. Runs 1hr 10min

Dates And Times

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