Annie Siddon’s (almost) one-woman show,
What could, in the hands of a less talented writer and performer, become saccharine was instead unassuming but poignant.
Raising awareness for The Samaritans, Annie Siddon’s second Fringe show begins with Siddon's moving from vibrant, cosmopolitan and sumptuous Central London to out in the aforementioned suburbs; from artistic, dirty London to leafy and rugby-obsessed Twickenham. This seems like the perfect moment to slot in a funny comedy show about a trendy, artsy woman clashing with her Hunter-clad, labradoodle toting yummy mummy counterparts. Instead we get a very serious, very moving but also incredibly touching in it's good humour monologue about Siddon's slowly becoming isolated in a bubble with just her children, away from husbands, family, University friends and artsy types, from the book club that shun her to her failed attempts at finding love. What could, in the hands of a less talented writer and performer, become saccharine was instead unassuming but poignant. The blend of Siddon’s matter-of-fact but humorous tone and the absolutely stunning series of films made sure the show avoided any hint of the indulgent or melodramatic. The character she either created or described who came along her journey were fully formed, ridiculous and exceptionally witty additions. The character of Verity was almost viscerally created by Siddon's impressions and manipulation of language. The way comic themes ran throughout the course of the piece gave it structure but also allowed a joke to be played whenever it was needed to relieve the tension of such a moving and sad story. Siddon’s has a beautiful grip of the English language and the way her descriptions, her metaphors and turns of phrase created this rhythm in her language that is completely sumptuous.
The only place this production seems to stumble was with her co-performer Adam Robertson. Robertson came on to play Siddon where appropriate in the story. Where Siddon’s part is narrated in the past tense, Robertson was a present tense incarnation of Siddon’s breakdown. While Robertson was undoubtedly a fantastic actor, it felt a tad unnecessary. Siddon’s had put such a spell of the audience, and kept pace so beautifully that these interruptions seemed annoying. My complete focus that existed when Siddon’s spoke evaporated quickly whenever their was an extended section of Robertson. Where the films were subtle and kept in keeping with the style of the piece, Robertson’s character seemed at odds with the atmosphere of the rest of the show.
How (Not) To Live In Suburbia is a truly delightful piece of work, it blends the serious and frivolous seamlessly. Siddon’s is a spell-binding performer and this paired with the fiercely good film reel, directed by Richard DeDomenici, make for a truly unbeatable combination.