Written and performed by Nicôle Lecky, Superhoe sees aspiring singer-songwriter Sasha Clayton turn to sex work to make an income whilst trying to achieve her dreams. As Lecky tells us her story and plays the various characters along the way, we’re exposed to themes of family, work and sex, as the character combats loneliness – “I’m not lonely, I’ve got 2800 followers”, she proclaims – without a family or home to turn to.
Superhoe plays with subtlety and simplicity through all elements of the text, performance and design. Rather than revealing a major incident in Clayton’s life which triggers an aftermath of events, we follow a young East Londoner with a dream, and slowly watch as she seems to be moving further away from it. That being said, the production is intercut with song performances, as Lecky sings into a microphone, her background filled with haze as she’s emphasised in a spotlight.
She doesn’t force the various characters in her story, but rather takes on subtle mannerisms and changing accents, slipping in and out of them as she chooses. We warm to the text as it progresses, and Lecky seems increasingly comfortable as the story moves on. She’s almost a little too self-aware at the beginning, but once she settles in, everything feels incredibly natural.
She moves around a pink carpeted stage, designed by Chloe Lamford, with green-blue walls that change shades depending on the lighting state, and a scattering of key props that are significant to her story. The large pink suitcase makes a dramatic mark before the play even begins: we know immediately she’s going to be moving or travelling somewhere. The walls are mostly bare, save a mirror, a hook for a coat and some shelves which hold some of the storytelling items. An ATM machine takes up another part of the wall, which later emphasises the nature of sex work as essentially, a business transaction that produces cash. The stage is levelled with a step, which Lecky backs onto during a moment of intimidation. She knocks her heels against the step. It’s as if she’s trapped.
There are some moments of the text that don’t seem to land with the audience and some of the references feel dated. But there’s also plenty of wonderful phrasings, as she describes staying with Carley as like “when the popcorn explodes in the microwave”, or ruthlessly describes her younger sister, who’d she be quite happy to “punch in the cunt”.
In terms of plot, the story never really delves in to one particular turning point or moment of drama. It doesn’t take itself to high end points of tension, which means that whilst Lecky’s performance is engaging through the eighty-minute drama, it’s never quite compelling. However, a combination of Lecky’s truthful performance and the carefully crafted direction from Jade Lewis make it a story and a character that is certainly worth investing in, even if her story doesn’t quite reach a dramatic peak.
Superhoe is playing at the Royal Court Theatre until 16 February. For more information and tickets, visit the Royal Court Theatre website.