Camden Fringe 2009
Lady in Bed
Written and Performed by Alison Goldie, and Directed by Laura Lloyd
Venue: Etcetera Theatre, 265 Camden High Street, London NW1
Festival: Camden Fringe
In her autobiographical one-woman show, Alison Goldie explores her colourful thirty-year love life with humour and unrestrained honesty. Through the channeling of her mother, best friend, a string of former lovers, and various incarnations of herself, Ms. Goldie revisits the scene of each hilarious and at times cringe-worthy encounter. A thoroughly enjoyable peek into a particularly active bedroom.
What would you say to your teenage self, on the brink of discovering your sexuality, if you had the chance? In The Weird Sisters’ production of ‘Lady in Bed’, Alison Goldie takes this chance. Her advice: ‘Above all else, make it your mission in life to know yourself, value yourself, and love yourself’. ‘Lady in Bed’ promises to be very funny, and it is, but it is also touching, poignant, and honest.
At the age of 48, Alison Goldie is feeling retrospective (‘When you get older, there’s always what-might-have-beens’), and in an attempt to discover exactly why she has turned out as she has, she takes a trip to the bedroom of her fourteen-year-old self. She advises her younger personality to be kinder to her mother, truer to her desires, and accepting of what lies ahead. She also dispels the notion that she will ever become ‘a famous actress’. She will not, she confesses; but she will meet some wonderful and interesting people.
Over the course of an hour, she introduces these people through stories and impersonations, and they are undeniably interesting. There is a blonde American surfer, a poverty-stricken Greek artist, a pot-smoking comedian, a Turkish sailor, a posh older gentleman whom she admits is more of a ‘father-figure’ than anything else, and a long line of Scousers. However, none of these characters are more interesting than the storyteller, and her observations are at once witty and familiar.
It is impossible not to like Alison Goldie. She has written her script with warmth and honesty and delivers it with startling intimacy. This is ‘adult material’, to be sure, but it is never uncomfortable. Ms. Goldie has a long history in the stand-up comedy world, having toured with Eddie Izzard and Jack Dee, and she is also a terrific actor. As a one-woman performance, her spot-on portrayals of everyone from her former lovers to a cheery array of animals help to keep things interesting and fresh. Direction and staging by Laura Lloyd is also exceptional. The stage is completely bare aside from a single chair, but the physicality combined with colourful descriptions and an appropriate use of lighting creates the sensation of being transported to each location. Musical interludes ranging from David Bowie and Charlie Parker to Estelle add to the whimsical feel.
‘Lady in Bed’ is not groundbreaking theatre, but then it isn’t meant to be. It is frank and entertaining without taking itself too seriously. This is the narrative of one woman’s life of relationships and sex, but there is obviously a wider, universal appeal in these experiences. Indeed, it is in the relatability of both Alison Goldie and her stories where the piece truly succeeds.
Playing through August 15th at the Etcetera Theatre in