Martha Watson Allpress’ show, Patricia Gets Ready (for a date with the man that used to hit her) is a solo-female piece, addressing the bibliographic story of her encounter with an ex who she runs into on the streets. The tragic twist, evident from the title, is that this ex is a man who used to physically abuse her, trapping her in a relationship for two years.
Starting in the style of stand up, entering into the play of form with the use of voiceover and mime, actress Angelina Chudi delivers a harrowing story beautifully, keeping all sense of self-worth and integrity, whilst taking the audiences through the horrific reality of living with a domestic abuser. She manages to sustain an upbeat, engaging tone despite tackling emotional contexts and topics, mainly through the use of original one liners, comments on popular culture, and tunes by Lizzo. She holds the audience in the palm of her hand through her wit and sincerity, and I mean, can anyone hand on heart say they truly believe George Clooney is completely straight?
Her repeated notion of the ‘battered woman’ holds as much weight as one of Ophelia’s sonnets in Shakespeare, tied into the 21st century with intervals of modern music and chart toppers of the 2000s. Her control of pace functions through an extremely clever control of the balance of humour, contrasted poignantly with moments of vulnerability and emotional breakdown shown through movement, sound effects and dialogue. The use of voiceover and her communication with absent characters deepens the narrative and makes the progression of events more evident, which is helpful and engaging as the piece functions without the basis of a linear timeline.
The repetition of key sections and pieces of dialogue reinforces key messages that Allpress wants to portray, such as hope and the ability to come back from trauma, and highlights the nature of a self-destructive mindset that stems from being a victim of emotional and physical violence. Chudi gives a stunning and empowering performance that gives an insight into the complex mind of a survivor of abuse, serving as a biographical source of narrative, as well as being a retaliation on the behalf of all women to any one in life making you feel trapped and unworthy.
Tears are shed and jokes are greeted with deserving laughter, all topped off with a complimentary bag of sweets and a leaflet of helplines, tying up the final threads of a piece that serves all women, and everyone who needs a reminder that we should never feel that we are not good enough because of exposure to toxic partners, or anyone who doesn’t give us the respect we deserve.
Patricia gets ready (for a date with a man that used to hit her) played the VAULT Festival until 9 February. For more information, visit the VAULT website.