Review: ★★★★★ Baby Reindeer, Bush Theatre

Review: ★★★★★ Baby Reindeer, Bush Theatre

Written and performed by Edinburgh Comedy Award Winner, Richard Gadd, Baby Reindeer throws us into a chilling narrative around Gadd’s personal experiences. Directed by Olivier Award Winner, Jon Brittain, Baby Reindeer is a dynamic, tonally wild and deeply emotional experience.

Gadd plays out his relationship with his stalker: Martha, personified by a bar stool. Their first encounter occurs in the pub he works at, offering her a cup of tea. This encounter spirals into an emotional rollercoaster that’s completely and utterly compelling. Gadd is a skilled performer, physically and vocally expressing the mixed emotions he feels at being stalked by this older, mentally ill woman, with a haunting, cackling laugh.

So rare do you see a man lay bare his vulnerabilities on stage the way Gadd does. He effortlessly plays with the tonal changes of his life – addressing his abilities to perform as a comedian, but also expressing his deep fears at what he has encountered, his shame around his sexuality and his struggle around maintaining healthy relationships.

Baby Reindeer addresses the theme of the ‘victim’; where does Gadd’s victimisation end and Martha’s begin? In a time where ‘Me Too’ stands up for victimised women, there’s a tendency to ignore moments where men feel threatened, compromised and misunderstood. Through recordings of his parents, ex girlfriend and landlady, we hear the outsider’s perspective, but at the centre of it, we see a very damaged woman, being led on by perhaps, an even more damaged man. There are times you turn against Gadd; he lays out his best and worst qualities, but ultimately, what you see on that stage is pure, unadulterated humanity.

Baby Reindeer is a bold, brave piece of theatre that demands only your full attention and an open mind…

 

Tess Kennedy

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