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Matthew Pearson

Baby Reindeer and Edinburgh Shows in London

We went to see Richard Gadd’s Baby Reindeer at Bush Theatre, Shepherd’s Bush. As well as telling you about it, we wanted to recommend a few more shows from the Edinburgh Fringe that are soon on in London. Edinburgh shows in London like...

  • Josie Long’s long-awaited comeback, Tender
  • Then there's John Robins’s follow up to the award-winning The Darkness of Robins
  • Also, Burgerz by Travis Alabanza
  • And finally, Collapsible by Margaret Perry

Baby Reindeer

It’s weird stepping back into sunlight (I saw the Wednesday matinee) after watching something like Baby Reindeer, Richard Gadd’s latest confessional storytelling piece. I felt like I’d been mugged. A decent chunk of the audience also looked bereft of something they’d walked in with. Richard Gadd deserves the contents of your wallet too. At least the price of a ticket to Baby Reindeer, on at Bush Theatre until November 9th. You’re given warnings as to the content as you walk in. Do heed them. Richard Gadd—winner of the Edinburgh Comedy Award (formerly the Perrier), but not a comedian here—has had a stalker for years. Not a tiptoeing weirdo who stops when you turn to confront them. Not a fan who went a bit too far online. A cruel, deluded, relentless, calculating, obsessed and damaged stalker who wants Gadd all for herself. If if she can’t have him, she wants him destroyed. Baby Reindeer was her nickname for him and the show is their story. It’s technically a one-man show, but she—‘Martha’—is centre stage, an empty bar stool that turns to face Gadd as he attempts to escape her, work around her, confront her head on. Her thousands of voicemail messages to him are recreated, spitting distorted through the speakers. Her endless obsessive, caring, hateful, disgusting emails batter the screens that surround Gadd in the round.

The story of a stalking

There were no warnings about gut punches, toe curls or knife twists as you walked in. The thousands of bilious calls and abusive messages hurled at Gadd disorientate as they pummel the audience, flashing up on screens, screaming through the PA as the lights go red. These are the gut punches. They bring the kind of hellish feeling forced on you by that bit in Dear Zachary when the bottom falls out of the world you’ve been led to believe is pulling itself together. The toe curls come from the actions of Gadd’s friends and Gadd himself. He meets the nascent obsession with pity, shrugs, with flirting, with mean jokes and inappropriate comments directed at the sad woman who comes to the bar he works at every day. The woman he gave a cup of tea to, on the house. The early gestures and actions and remarks of Gadd and his Greek chorus of laddy mates and colleagues don’t make them look good. They are brief and, given the actions of the opposition, understandable. Yet their inclusion is brave. Baby Reindeer is complicated by them, its honesty is balanced, its devastating tone made responsible because of them. Now for the knife twists, the final act in the mugging. Richard Gadd approaches the police for assistance. He looks upwards, the meetings staged as though he’s a little kid asking an omnipotent authority figure in the heavens for help. Has she made direct threats against you? If she’s contacting your loved ones, she isn’t harassing you now is she? Do you fear for your life? Are you scared of her? The knife twists with each question, each conclusion that, to the letter, she hasn’t done anything against the law. The operational impotence of the police frustrates and focuses like a migraine.

The end

Any slight opening of light or space for air that comes from on high is quickly, painfully shut down Gadd’s stalker shows herself impervious to intimidation, resistant to reason, reinvigorated by rejection. Time and time again she outdoes herself, her cruelty deepens, her intentions darken. Her last action, her last appearance still hurts and still shocks, despite all that she's done before. Throughout, Gadd submits to waves of confusion, distrust and resignation. He sparks into anger, clarity and decisiveness. He’s a physically energetic performer—he performed his last show, Monkey See, Monkey Do running on a treadmill—but his swings between contrasting emotional responses to his harassment are the most exhausting thing about Baby Reindeer. You need stamina even as an audience member. It’s not a marathon by any means. The 70-minute, no interval performance seems to take no time at all. It’s more like doing a hundred metre sprint. With no sleep. And a 40 degree fever. And someone’s switched your Lucozade for Jack Daniel’s. You come round 70 minutes later, wondering where the hell you are, what the hell happened and where the hell all your stuff is. So go see Richard Gadd’s Baby Reindeer. With a friend, if possible. It’s on at Bush Theatre in Shepherd’s Bush until November 9th 2019. For tickets, head here.

Josie Long, Tender

We saw Josie Long at Live at the Empire at Hackney Empire earlier this year following her Edinburgh run. There, her short set on a mixed bill with Stewart Lee, Rose Matafeo, Rosie Jones and others really stood out, her confident, singular voice cutting through, even on a bill like that, even as the world spins out of control around her. Just as relatable and conversational as ever, she seemed refreshed after her first new Edinburgh show in five years, which was met with universal praise. Her material on motherhood was profound and distinctive, heartfelt and perfectly pitched. She had a great bit about periods and the JFK assassination too. She’s being doing this since she was 17, but she’s never seemed quite as brilliantly, contagiously hilarious as this before. So we can’t wait to see her at the Soho Theatre in November. You shouldn't need any more reasons to join us, but here's our review of Live at the Empire all the same. Tender is on at the Soho Theatre from November 11th - November 20th 2019. For tickets, head here. [caption id="attachment_5492" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption]

John Robins, Hot Shame

It was never likely that John Robins’s 2018 Edinburgh Comedy Award win would change him. The self-criticism that made his last, award-winning live show The Darkness of Robins so compelling wasn’t going on the pyre along with the slain Edinburgh albatross. After all, he has a radio feature called John’s Shame Well and he is the mayor of said well. But his new show Hot Shame—while just as personal and revealing and charted by his own missteps as the last—is more forgiving. And his tale of a night spent with a woman in New York is one of the most sensitive, reassuring and excruciating tales ever told of a night spent trying to be both a good person and a sexual being. Hot Shame is on at the London Finchley Arts Depot on 16th November. He’s touring across the country until the end of November 2019. For tickets, head here. [caption id="attachment_5491" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption]


Travis Alabanza has turned a violent act committed against them, and violent, transphobic words thrown their way, into an important, vital, protesting piece of art. The show is playful in its form and, through Travis’s assured and singular voice, it’s witty and smart and sensitive. But Burgerz is cutting too. Its technicolour boldness and uniqueness can’t mask the fact that hateful acts like the one that inspired Burgerz are desperately bleak and depressingly common. A standout Edinburgh show in London for a limited run. So book now. Burgerz is on at the Southbank Centre from 29th November - 1st December 2019. For tickets, head here. [caption id="attachment_5490" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption]


One of the most original Edinburgh shows in London early next year, this one woman monologue is captivating from first to last and superbly, simply staged. We’re watching Essie, broken up with her girlfriend and now jobless, right on the edge of falling down, of breakdown. She’s angry, furious with the world. She’s done, her heart broken by it all. We see tender moments and we see her fury as her world collapses and she collapses with it. Collapsible is on at Bush Theatre from 5th February - 14th March 2020. For tickets, head here. [caption id="attachment_5493" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption] So, those are our tips for Edinburgh Shows in London right now, a little later or early next year. Of course, there are plenty more brilliant Edinburgh shows in London, opening, closing and popping up over the next few months. So do please let us know about your top tips in the comments below. But, if you're generally into London theatrical events and venues, have a look over here. But, you know, you might be more into sushi. So, if that's the case, have a look here.

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