Patricia Gets Ready (for a Date with the Man that Used to Hit Her) is a one woman play, following Patricia, who bumps into her abusive ex who she hasn’t seen in sometime. After a scene of fumbling, she agrees to have dinner with him. The story follows her journey of hyping herself up to meet him, whilst retelling her toxic relationship to the audience. When she meets him she plucks up the courage to tell him how she really feels and gives the feminist speech of all feminist speeches. However, we learn that this was part of her imagination, and in reality, she’s not as vocal as she would like to be. It runs 17-22nd August 20:40, and 24-29th August 14:30 at the EICC.
Angelina Chudi is amazing as Patricia, she embodies the feminist dilemma we’ve all felt. My favourite line was where she said “I wasn’t a slag”, and went on to explain how the word “slag” is sexist and misogynistic. Then she said “well I was a bit of a slag”. The theatre all laughed in agreement. We all know those words are outdated and sexist, but we all refer to ourselves as that from time to time. Angelina’s portrayal feels very real and not a forced facade of the “perfect feminist”, despite her knowing so much about it. She has flaws. Being on the stage for an hour, alone, Angelica’s acting is impeccable. She leans into the audience, fills you in on the drama and speaks to characters who are not there without it feeling pantomime-ish. Her comedic timing is spot on, which is a nice refreshment considering the themes of the play. However, at the serious points when she is explaining the abuse her acting is powerful. Her speech where she confronts her ex is empowering and we as an audience can sympathize with her. But then reality sets in and we realise she hasn’t said these things at all. We see a switch in her demeanor which transitions flawlessly. Definitely one of the best solo performances I have seen for some time.
6/8 of the team are all female, which is amazing to see when creating a performance surrounding women’s issues. A lot of the time it’s easy to tell when a man is writing about women’s problems; it’s not as raw and authentic. The playwright Martha Watson Allpress is great at inter grating feminist jargon with swearing and dialect. Again, this gives a very normal feeling rather than pompous words that feel patronizing and exclusive. She makes you feel comfortable as you recognize yourself in Patricia, she’s very likeable but then she reveals her story bit by bit. You’re engrossed and empathetic without feeling overwhelmed. At the beginning of the performance there was a trigger warning, however I believe Martha was very tasteful and respectful with these issues, but still kept that authenticity of life for domestic abuse survivors. For this to be her debut play is astounding. It would be interesting to see her other work where characters may interact with each other, as her monologues are very interesting and in depth.
The theatre provided a QR code with information about the cast and crew, which was a great alternative to programmes especially in the corona times. In the online programme, Director Kaleya Baxe describes her work as “driven by her passion for representation, inclusion and collaborative kindness”. This is very evident in Patricia Gets Ready, as she tackles abusive relationships through the eyes of a black woman. A poem was read out at the end of the performance which I think embodies Kaleya’s work; “The Battered Woman”. It describes all the stereotypes society has about “the battered woman”, which Patricia is the opposite. To show a woman who looks and acts like Patricia, telling her story of abuse, Kaleya is representing and including woman like her and changing the narrative around domestic abuse victims. The stage did not have much depth to it, however it would have been exciting to see the stage explored a tad more. The set was mainly Patricias bedroom, consisting of a bed, pile of clothes and of course a dildo. This may have been to show the isolation she felt, and of course Angelica addressed the whole audience and her presence was felt around the room. However, the space could have been used to add another element to Patricias story.
Patricia Gets Ready (for a Date with the Man that Used to Hit Her) is a realistic portrayal of the effects that linger from an abusive relationship without feeling intrusive or graphic. I left the theatre feeling empathetic and informed, rather than upset or triggered. I would highly recommend you go see it, to understand the process a person goes through in that situation.
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