FringeReview UK 2016
Following on from the success of My Stories, Your Emails, Olivier Award winning performance provocateur, Ursula Martinez, is back on her dirty soapbox, baring her soul (and possibly more), as she attempts to understand the absurdity of modern living.
Free Admission sees her building a real brick wall between herself and the audience, whilst revealing her hopes, fears, frustrations, delights and disappointments, both personal and universal.
A show which celebrates the inconsistencies and contradictions that make us human, whilst having a dig at some of the mess that is of our own making.
Ursula Martinez stands on stage in a white suit, looking for all the world like a nattily dressed estate agent, as opposed to the bricklayer that she turns into during the show. Informal opening to the show dispensed with, and a few revelations about her obsession with having a clean bum hole out the way, she moves behind the screen, and begins to brick herself up.
This show is a confessional, an insight into Martinez’ personal life, political viewpoint, but with some utterly banal thoughts thrown into the mix as well. It jumps around, each statement delivered with equal importance, but only some having enough weight to sink in.
The piece is formulaic and almost rhythmic, each line beginning with the word ‘sometimes’, as she loads up a breezeblock with more cement and expertly taps it into place.
This repetition is an interesting stylistic choice, which is only broken up on a couple of occasions by Martinez coming forward to speak to the audience. At first it works for me – the building work provides a focus and obviously an important metaphor, where the less of her we see the more of herself she reveals. However, after a while the limitations of the ‘sometimes…’ format becomes a bit wearing, and as I realise that the show will continue in this way until the whole wall is built, my heart does sink slightly.
Martinez’ show covers a lot of ground; she dares the audience to laugh at her racist childhood chants, and very offensive Jamaican accent, before breaking our hearts with the story of her dad’s untimely death due to an understaffed NHS ward.
It is an intimate performance in which she reveals much of herself, culminating (somewhat predictably for someone who has made this her career) in her removing all of her clothes, taking a gurning selfie with an audience member, and running out of the theatre, her naked buttocks projected on her newly built wall as she jogs into the darkness.
This show is a departure for Martinez from cabaret into theatre, and on the whole it works. She is a woman with an engaging onstage presence, with much to say that is worth listening to, I just think that a little more variation in the show’s presentation would have made it a better piece.