FringeReview UK 2019
In a co-production with Talawa Theatre. Directed by Jade Lewis. Designed by Chloe Lamford Lecky performs in a clean pink and pastel-green set with a minimal storage unit for costumes stage left, and a giant ATM on the wall with video above is Ewan Jones Morris’ work. Emma Laxton’s sound moves from open mic to an envelope of urban. Lecky’s music teams with The Last Skeptick from aggy-prods to tremulous frayed nocturnes.
It was only a year ago that Royal Court Upstairs mounted Anoushka Warden’s uproarious My Mum’s a Twat, performed by Patsy Ferran. Nicole Lecky’s Superhoe, featuring the author as performer/singer and directed by Jade Lewis is another coming-of-age high-energy work. It’s mounted in association with Talawa Theatre; a first collaboration with Royal Court.
The difference is that 28-year-old Lecky takes a fictive route, through 24-year-old Sasha Clayton’s coping with that in between life twenty-somethings everywhere face.
Thrown out of her family’s spare bedroom, ghosted by her boyfriend of eleven years, Sasha wakes from her wannabe-singer/rap dream. That’s the one where seventeen friends can’t put her up, and the eighteenth acquaintance immerses her in another fantasy: raps to riches: camwork; then the high-end sex-worker industry. All the time she hopes she might complete enough songs to present a demo EP to one DJ Spinner. Work gets in the way. Casual racism, the litany ‘where are you from?’ the gradual pull from coercive Carly Visonz whose room offer she quickly accepts, to more and more, ending in a Dubai trip where the 5K deal is skin on skin and all of it. Lecky refuses the easy preach – it’s clear that some young women make a costly life from this – though shows how Carly manipulates and values her adopted stray friend.
Lecky impresses enormously as writer, singer and most visibly as actor: funny, ferocious, withdrawn and childlike, sassy, and deeply sophisticated. Lecky’s an experienced TV and theatre actor; so her seamless gear-shift from northern through Jamaican to East London might be expected.
The great reveal though is her writing – the poetic distilled from sheer idiom. So it’s not just that it registers voices; Clayton’s aggy buzz sparks in such invention. And memorable images splurge. Almost at random you come across: ‘He bends me over like I’m a superstar’ and ‘She’s got this look… like a fuzzy ball of kindness mixed with pity’. Or a kebab wrapper ‘yellow chips spilling out of it like a strewn bouquet. Covered in red blood.’ And that title? A typo that Spinner tells Sasha to own. Lecky’s above all a theatre-writer in the making.
Designed by Chloe Lamford Lecky performs in a clean pink and pastel-green set with a minimal storage unit for costumes stage left, and a giant ATM on the wall with video above – Ewan Jones Morris’ work – in-yer-face purple epigrams flashing Sasha’s value: as a bought thing. There’s an Instagram scroll working overtime too. Emma Laxton’s sound moves from open mic to an envelope of urban and a few hopeless dawns. Lecky’s music teams with The Last Skeptick from aggy-prods to tremulous frayed nocturnes.
The arc of Sasha’s self-discovery is more nuanced than this. The wannabe good mother, irritating sister, and irritating pompous stepdad, where ‘I’m the one brown’. Sasha’s self-destructive calls on her ex’s house, the neighbour whose hapless son she shockingly insults. That clue, eleven years with a man and something else lends a serration to Sasha’s history and a point to her crashing self-belief. Yet the late reveals and to whom starts another phase.
This might seem a little bit redemptive and the storyline is necessarily swift and straightforward. But Lecky’s unflinching realism, her language and performative brilliance, including those songs, points to a searing talent and someone whose next work could prove riveting.