Soho Theatre, London, 13/11/2018.
There were two main reasons why I was excited to see Natalie Palamides at the Soho Theatre, the first being that the reviews from the performances at Edinburgh had been incredibly positive, and friends who had seen it had raved about it, with a few being quite shocked that it wasn’t nominated for the main Edinburgh Comedy Award. The second was that it’s directed by Doctor Brown (whose The Passage I wrote about this past weekend) and she’s been described as a protege of his, I’m a huge fan of the man and was fascinated to see what someone who’s inspired by him would be like.
Despite having incredibly high expectations Paladimes didn’t disappoint in the slightest, indeed it surpassed them by a tremendous amount. To describe it in detail would spoil what’s a truly unpredictable show, I went in cold and am glad that I did as everything was a delightful surprise. So for anyone who’s considering going (which should be everyone reading this, whether you’re near London or not) it’s probably best if you look away now, or skip down to the final paragraph, and even with such a warning I’m only going to briefly summarise some of the highlights.
The show starts with Palamides making the funniest entrance to a stage that I’ve ever seen, and the first five minutes or so are mostly silent, with the character of Nate showing off his machismo. Given the link to Doctor Brown I started to wonder if the whole show would be all clowning, and wouldn’t have minded at all given what we were presented with, but soon Nate begins to explain that a recent relationship has come to an end and he’s struggling to come to terms with it.
A fair deal of audience participation follows and I could imagine the show could vary enormously depending on those who take part but tonight the main two involved were more than happy to be an element of this truly crazy production, and provided some very funny moments along the way, though it would be nothing without Palamides quick wit and ability to improvise to their comments and reactions. Despite how this may sound there is a strong narrative during proceedings and then it ends in a surprisingly brutal manner, all of which adds up to making it an unforgettable show.
It’s ridiculous that Paladimes wasn’t nominated for the main award at Edinburgh this year, and that she didn’t win it, especially given that a couple of those who were up for the award are fairly good but not a lot more than that. She’s clearly a fearless performer, often semi-naked at certain points and unafraid to explore areas that most comedians wouldn’t come within a million miles of touching upon. It’s insanely funny and captivating throughout, surprisingly powerful and in a year where I’ve seen the likes of Maria Bamford, Marc Maron, Michael Brunström and Bridget Christie perform amazing comedy it’s the best thing I’ve caught without a flicker of a doubt.
(And yes, I know I mentioned in a previous review that I never give 5/5 as I didn’t believe any show could be perfect but I’m breaking that rule here, because it really is that good).