- Gareth K Vile
- 21 August 2019
A monologue given power by a dynamic performance
Two very different plays are struggling for dominance in Definitely Louise: an unfocused satire on celebrity obsession and the deceptive character of the actor, and a more driven and familiar version of the mental health anxiety tragedy. The two parts don't cohese - the satire consciously mocks the emotionalism of theatre, undermining the finale, but Bethany Heath demonstrates remarkable virtuosity in capturing a volatile young woman who is either on the edge of a nervous breakdown or almost ready for prime time.
The first sections of the show introduce the young woman: chatty, obsessive, willing to mock others before launching into an emotive speech that ticks the boxes of confessional, autobiographical performance. It's clear she is delusional, and has a nasty edge to her hunger for fame, yet she appears to be holding things together. Gradually, this is unpicked and her true situation is revealed, in a final scene that slips into melodramatic intensity.
As a naturalistic monologue, Definitely Louise has a refreshing irony in its fast-paced script and the dark humour interrupts a merry-go-round of celebrity name-drops and fantastic ambitions. The brief appearances of two other performers shifts the pace, announcing both the final section (in which the young woman confronts her tragedy) and the sudden but unsurprising twist. If the performance holds the show together, the writing is powerful even when the structure is awkward.
Gilded Balloon Rose Street, 3.15pm, £8–£9 (£7–£8).