Entering the cavernous studio space within The Roundhouse, I didn’t quite notice Sophie Rose at first – talking easily with audience members in a front row of soft sofas – until I noticed that she wasn’t wearing any socks. In the next five minutes prior to the show’s start she continues to befriend us, and the piece is able to get off to a comfortable and informal start. The arrangement has an everyday feel. It’s the sort of show to have a kettle on the floor in the corner for you to serve your own tea.
Quiet Violence is about a young professional, Sophie (Sophie Rose), who spends her free time watching telly with her much older neighbour, Stanley. The polarity of their outlooks on life and their differing opinions on the Radio Times schedule are somehow what binds them. Rose’s physicality doesn’t quite make characterisation clear at all times as she multi-roles, but she is always affable. Laughs are scored through quick asides and confident physical comedy. In a carefree manner, she begins to open up about her story, and it’s easy to coast on in her company.
We soon meet her boyfriend, Craig, who is cool and carefree, neither in a good way. They meet at a club where his leery approach semi-seduces Rose. Sustained through sessions of children’s cartoons, Craig’s lack of interactivity goes beyond an inability to text back. The relationship is a frustratingly bad idea from start to finish, but it does for comedy, including a pretty poignant sex scene in which Rose, miming the physical effects of Craig’s ineffective thrusts, is distracted by existential questions about the humble plastic bag.
Most unfortunate is the fact that you spend far more of the show’s 60 minutes in Craig’s company than with Stanley. This is paradoxically problematic: though Stanley is made more enticing by the forced distance, increasing frustration in Craig’s scenes, you are unable to form enough of a relationship with him before the climactic dilemma which centres on his relationship with Rose.
The piece also runs the risk of becoming the trials and travails of your average mid-20s graduate in London. What saves Rose is her personality: she is easily relatable, but too confident to be an everyman. She’s the kind of person who accompanies you to your friend’s party, and then gets along swimmingly on their own.
Overall it’s an enjoyable one-woman show on the strength of Rose’s performance itself. The wry observational comedy and her magnetic personality make it easy to warm to the piece quickly. There are character problems, the plot itself is second priority, but after being given feedback forms at the end of the show, it’s clear that Rose is eager to take something from her audiences. I can only see the piece moving forward in the coming months. I’ll certainly be looking out for her in Edinburgh.
Quiet Violence played at The Roundhouse and is currently on tour. For tickets and more information, see Sophie Rose’s website.