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Brighton Festival 2024

Perfect Show for Rachel

Zoo Co and Improbable

Genre: Comedic, Dance, Improvised Theatre, Music, Theatre

Venue: Brighton Dome Corn Exchange


Low Down

Zoo co and Improbable spin the dial in a show that celebrates difference.


Groovy looking dudes are partying on stage. Rachel sits behind a console like a DJ ready to drop some beats. Instead, she’s going to order her performance troupe to act out scenes at whim and for her pleasure alone.  No matter if we don’t like it, it’s not being done for us, but for Rachel – and boy does she know it.

It may have been honed into a tight, slick touring show since previewing at The Barbican in 2022, but Perfect Show For Rachel has the threat of chaos in its DNA. What director  wouldn’t relish the control Rachel is allowed; will she press the fart button, or Kylie, or her birthday? Will she send the actors off stage, or make them go faster?

But a conductor is nothing without an orchestra and this is very much a collective piece, the twelve strong cast know exactly how to respond in dance routines, slapstick gags, power ballads. With live captions, integrated BSL signing, film and video the staging proves that providing access for everyone can add to the production aesthetic rather than hinder it. Watching Rachel watching her own sly smile on a monitor is one of the best things for me. Another is Becky Barry’s danced signing of Hallelujah (nicely sung by Folarin Akinmade); these small quiet moments puncture the constructed zaniness of the scenes.

Full of playful intent, Perfect Show is open hearted and looks like brilliant fun to perform. Family is at its heart, with sister Flo lead artist and mum Wendy supporting Rachel. It knows its value and just how unusual it is to have a learning disabled women at the helm, even with the evident guidance she receives.

The tone maybe too much Saturday Superstore and not enough Tiswas; perhaps another night it would have more anarchy, or endless East Enders.  But as long as Rachel is happy and getting the thanks and applause that’s bound to round off such an audacious achievement, that’s perfect.