Shoe Lady Review
Updated: Jun 26
Shoe Lady by E.V. Crowe
Royal Court Theatre: Mar 04 - Mar 21 Review by Ben Quashie
Lift Yourself - Kanye West
Much like Kanye as a person, this song is very polarising… Can I even call it a song? It chops between genres so you don't really know what to expect and then ends with… that… whilst still being an undefinable vibe.
Shoe Lady isn’t as extreme as Kanye’s “project” but the Brechtian style and un-focused dialogue create an environment that doesn't gel with an easy watching experience. It does require a level of focus and if watching a satirical analysis of a middle class woman grapple with reality in the form of a curtain isn’t your cup of tea, then maybe it’s not the one for you. The play remains entertaining throughout, but the only thing i was certain of was that this production is going to be quite polarising.
Fitzpleasure - Alt-J
You very quickly get whipped up into the tornado that is Viv, played by Catherine Parkinson, which is aided by the rigidness of the environment around her. All other characters are bound to a grid and when the stage managers enter, mainly to re-grease her foot with blood, it’s as if they are under an oppressive regime. Focus and bound on their tasks, obliterating any sense of individuality. The dialogue in E.V. Crowe’s play spirals in the same capacity that Alt-J’s lyrics only just about make coherent sense but still pull together a clear intent of warning. It is then matched by the structured fashion of the beat that surrounds it.
The Story of Adidon - Pusha T
Often in theatre there are plays that are so high brow they’re riddled with metaphors that most people can’t grasp so it excludes its audience… This isn't one of them.
Crowe’s writing is full to the brim with different possibilities for interpretation but when combined with Vicky Featherstone’s direction in this production they are presented in an accessible manner. I was aware that some things were going over my head and would probably require a second viewing to fully analyse each moment but, much like Pusha T’s deconstruction of Drake in this diss track, it’s a fully comprehensible product and still dripping with metaphors. You pick up on each line and it allows you to draw lines and construct the story and context without feeling like you’re being excluded for not grasping a specific moment.
Follaton Wood - Ben Howard
Chloe Lamford’s design highlights the narrow viewpoint people in Viv’s predicament have. The travelator running at high speeds, as she hobbles on a high heel and a busted foot, with a gaping pit either side of her shows how close we are to the edge. The huge shadows curated by Natasha Chivers’ Lighting Design that tactically plaster the walls of the set ensure that Viv is always being chased by her demons whilst she tries to maintain an external appearance of composure.
Dreams of William - Daughter
Breezeblocks - alt-J
P’s and Q’s - Kano
Blood On the Leaves - Kanye West
Steal (ft. Holly Walker) - Maribou State