Patricia Gets Ready (for a date with the man who used to hit her)
- Gareth K Vile
- 18 August 2021
A restrained yet passionate Fringe monologue about domestic abuse that eschews tropes of victimhood
Based on playwright Martha Watson Allpress' experiences of domestic abuse, Patricia Gets Ready is a forthright and relevant monologue that highlights the insidious nature of violence's affect and challenges old stereotypes of the 'battered woman'. Performer Angelina Chudi lends Patricia a lively sense of humour, an easy rapport with her audience and, in reading a brief poem after the applause, draws attention to the script's desire to open up a conversation that goes beyond predictable depictions of victimhood.
Following Patricia's initial meeting with her ex-partner, the script examines nuances and complexities of her response: the desire to settle a score, to present herself as competent and having recovered from trauma. Conversations with her (offstage) mother and memories of the relationship shape Patricia's journey and rehabilitation; far from being a simple matter of self-care, that journey is described as difficult, filled with relapses and brittle confidence. Throughout the hour, Angelina Chudi is restrained yet passionate, capturing the intensity of those times of violence, her ambivalence about her own behaviour and, winningly, a sense of a character gradually finding more positive outlooks while not allowing the abuse to define her.
The narrative gradually emerges: Patricia's youthful confidence has been undermined by the abuse and this 'date' with her ex-partner becomes a reluctant challenge to her sense of self. By emphasising an unsensational approach – with a simple scenography and monologue's formal limitations – Patricia Gets Ready does not capitalise on its emotive subject matter, offering a relatively undramatic and intellectual reflection on domestic violence.
This lack of intensity prevents the material from being shocking, thereby highlighting the problems of discussing such a serious issue in performance; that it lacks an overwhelming drama allows the subject to be explored in detail, but with the downside that it loses emotional power. Yet between Chudi's performance and the coherent structure of the script, this is a strong entry in a crucial conversation both about abuse itself and the ways in which art can examine it.
Patricia Gets Ready (for a date with the man who used to hit her), Pleasance at EICC, until Sunday 22 August, 8.40pm; Thursday 24–Sunday 29 August, 2.30pm, £13–£15.