WHAT WOULD HELEN MIRREN DO?
by Josie Melia.
Waterloo East Theatre Brad Street SE1 82N To 25 March 2012.
Tue–Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat, Sun 3pm.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7982 0060.
Review: William Russell 1 March.
If You Knew Susie …you’d sure like Susie.
Josie Melia’s one woman show, starring Anita Parry as Susan, a middle-aged supermarket employee in Oldham, is a model of its kind – funny, warm-hearted and upbeat, offering hope to all that, even in a world where the boss is a creep, a woman who knows her mind can get ahead.
The problem is Susan, played beautifully by Anita Parry – she looks and sounds rather like a younger Anne Reid – has low self-esteem. Her disabled son is in a care-home, her daughter travelling the world on her gap year, her old mother is demanding and selfish, and her odious boss, Steve, is what could be called a hands-on man.
Sent on a management course, which is gloriously sent-up, part time worker Susan is appalled by the idiocy of the questions she faces until, confronted with having to say who her role model is, she comes to the conclusion it is Helen Mirren. Not so much Mirren as Elizabeth Windsor, as Mirren as Jane Tennison.
Having successfully completed the course she gets offered a full time job, and, faced with her awful boss and wayward colleagues for the entire working week, she finds the courage she needs by modelling her behaviour on the Dame’s acting style. The result is very funny, because as Mirren-Tennison with a dash of Mirren-Windsor Susan is unstoppable. She even, having been asked by the management trainer what her ambition might be, starts to learn Spanish. Would you believe it? The store gets taken over by a Spanish company.
Susan, even when a downtrodden part-time worker, is clearly a girl of spirit judging by her chat, so one is not too surprised that she can take on the world at large and all ends very well indeed. The ability to do so was always there. Melia’s words are terrific and Parry has a wonderful time being all the characters in Susan’s life – Olé, Hasta la Vista, Caramba!
Susan: Anita Parry.
Director: Peter Ellis.
Designer: Lorna Killin.
Lighting: Sophie McLelland.
Sound: Samuel Charleston.