Jessie Cave: Bookworm
A bookish, kooky, bolshy hour
This article is from 2012.
Jessie Cave has a thing about books. She also has a thing about power. Founding a book club is a given. Giddy with excitement, Cave parades her many eccentricities while laying down the various rules of book club. Before becoming an actress (she played Lavender Brown in the last two Harry Potter films), Cave was a trained illustrator and animator working mainly backstage in theatres. Here she puts her old skills to good use. A bright Wendy house hogs the stage, bizarre illustrations are peppered around, odd props appear and disappear, it’s all very JM Barrie, it’s all very charming. And then the hectoring begins.
Bookworm is, in essence, a character comedy monologue punctuated by occasional interruptions. It’s a revue sketch that Joyce Grenfell, Victoria Wood or Julie Walters would possibly give ten minutes to; Cave’s character here is bossy and annoying, obsessed with her curtailed tennis career, an old boyfriend, control and mediocre books. It’s funny for a while and then it becomes a little draining. The wanton kookiness and nerdy bolshiness just don’t fit together.
Luckily, help is at hand from Cave’s real life sister Bebe, who is called upon to hold and carry things. Bebe has her own agenda; she loves The Hunger Games and constantly asks when they are going to re-enact key scenes from it. Constantly rebutted by her highly-strung sibling, hers is the comedy reactive role, and she does so much with so little. There is also a great bit of planned audience participation, which really helps. The trouble with Bookworm is that it’s a little studied, over-processed and stage-managed (the career Cave was about to train in when she switched to performing). A bit more chaos would go a long way.
Underbelly, Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, until 26 Aug, 2.30pm, £9–£10 (£8–£9).