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Brighton Fringe 2010

All that I was/All that I am

Sue MacLaine

Venue: Pavillion Theatre


Low Down

This is a beautifully written one-woman show about the life of Sid Lester, an ex-Vaudevillian performer who revisits highlights of his past shows and loving memories of his late wife, featuring slapstick routines and tap dancing.


The show began with Sid Lester, a little old man played by Sue MacLaine, shuffling onstage and giving out sweets to the audience. At the same time a deaf signer came on stage, and Sid, in raincoat and flat cap, gave him a sweet too and signed his name to the audience.  In stand- up style, Sid spoke to the audience and interacted in various ways such as getting a volunteer to switch on his ghetto blaster.

In his old-school manner, ‘he’ slapped the volunteer on her bottom and addressed her as ‘darlin’.  The show then continued with a series of little acts from Sid – a slow and balletic dance with his shopping trolley, some reminiscences about venues he’d played such as the Glasgow Empire (no turn unstoned!)  and various showbiz stories interspersed with memories about the life he and his wife Flo had shared together.  

He occasionally repeated himself and was forgetful, which increased the poignancy of the old man’s character. There were comedy dance routines, mentions of other acts he had worked with (Morecambe and Wise, Tommy Trinder) and tales from his youth, interspersed with glimpses of Sid’s present life and his unhappy relationship with his daughter.

The writing was well crafted and gently paced, in a style that matched the character and mood of the piece. The stage was empty of props apart from a microphone and stand; Sue MacLaine uses physical theatre techniques to act out Sid’s stories.
The theatre was full and the audience loved the show. The character of Sid touched the universal in us all; no one could fail to be moved by Sid and his stories, everyone could relate to the character and feel the sense of loss he held for his wife and the bewilderment he had over his relationship with his daughter. MacLaine is a highly accomplished actress and we really felt like we were watching an old man as she assumed the posture and movements of the veteran performer, still able to dance but with stiff and arthritic limbs, still able to tell his funny stories but sometimes forgetful and repetitive.
In the end, the story was one of hope, as Sid muses on life and death and ‘a hope of something’ day.
This was a memorable and moving show full of humour but with bittersweet moments. Sid is very watchable and the audience would have liked to see more of him. A really special show.