tue 19/11/2019

Natalie Palamides, Soho Theatre - challenging show about consent | reviews, news & interviews

Natalie Palamides, Soho Theatre - challenging show about consent

Natalie Palamides, Soho Theatre - challenging show about consent

Deft and witty examination of a difficult subject

Natalie Palamides as Nate, complete with drawn-on chest hair and a rubbery member

The #MeToo movement is barely a year old, but it is already prompting some clever and insightful comedy – from standalone jokes or set-pieces in several comics’ shows, or, here, a very funny but frequently discomfiting hour that delves deep into the subjects of gender, relationships and toxic masculinity.

Natalie Palamides, an LA-based actress, burst on to the UK comedy scene last year with her award-winning show Laid, which examined motherhood and fertility, and much beyond. Nate initially appears to follow in the same vein: a mime to start the show, then some daft interactive comedy to follow, and a narrative seemingly light but one that prompts impassioned debate afterwards.

Palamides, bare-chested (with painted-on chest hair) under a checked lumber jacket and wearing camouflage trousers and work boots, rides on to the stage on a mini scooter to a blaring rock music soundtrack. She is Nate, a hilariously dick-swinging (literally) approximation of modern manhood.

Then, after approaching a few women in the audience with sexual come-ons, Nate challenges his "ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend" (avoid the front row at all costs) to a duel, while another poor chap in the audience plays Nate’s “best buddy” (no seat is safe for this one). While there are some easy laughs in these set-ups, many of them are designed to make the audience feel deeply uncomfortable. This is, after all, a nearly naked woman, pretending to be an sexually aggressive man, while sporting a large, exposed prosthetic penis.

Then comes a change of gear when Palamides presents Nate in a rather different light; we see another side of him when he is out on a sweet but drunken date with his art teacher. This, though, troubles us even more as all is not as it first appears, and Palamides challenges our perceptions of sexual behaviour and consent.

Some of the show’s impact – perhaps too much – depends on how willing those members of the audience Palamides picks on are to participate in faux-macho behaviour. I heard of some confrontational moments in the show's run at the Edinburgh Fringe; the night I saw it, the women Nate picked on were game for a laugh and the two blokes were good manners itself, which meant Palamides had little to, er, rub up against.

Palamides is a fearless performer, and this show (directed by fellow clown Dr Brown) makes its points rather more subtly that its broad comedy might otherwise suggest.

  • Natalie Palamides is at Soho Theatre, London W1 until 1 December
I heard of some confrontational moments in the run at the Edinburgh Fringe


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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