• Amy Toledano

Shoe Lady presented by the Royal Court Theatre

Image courtesy of Manuel Harlan

What is it?

E.V. Crowe's new play explores domestic, middle class life in London through an abstract lens and a missing shoe.

What is it about?

Viv (Katherine Parkinson) is a normal person. A two shoe wearing person. She gets up to begin her day, but something isn't quite right. The curtains have come down from their railing and Viv can't possibly go to work with the curtains not right.

This exchange of curtain and hook begins the mini catastrophes that form her day, as Viv gets herself to her office, all the while not quite realising, that she has in fact, lost one of her shoes.

With tiny glimpses of her family, a husband and son whose voices often go unheard, we witness Viv unable to buy another pair of shoes, and her attempts to live her usual day despite this, hobbling through it until the pressure snaps inside her, and the seemingly dramatic reactions to her situation are acutely defined by the burdens she has within.

How did it make me feel?

It is impossible to imagine anyone else besides Katherine Parkinson playing this peculiar role. Her energy and dry delivery creates the perfect image of a 'wife', and woman, just doing her best with what she has got. She is totally engaging, her warmth and familiarity light up the stage.

The script, is poetic and dips in out of naturalism and absurdist, teetering on a line of what is reality and what is in Viv's mind. Direction by Vicky Featherstone, is clear and concise, and entwined with the brilliant and deft stage design, the piece is drenched in a certain unease and sense of impending doom that may or may not have already happened.

The design team for the piece, including Chloe Lamford, Natasha Chivers (Lighting) and Tony Gale (Sound) create an intricate and at times, unnerving atmosphere that adds to the sentiment that things are heading in a direction that may not be a good.

Kayla Meikle who plays Kayla, a woman who also only has one shoe, is a brilliant addition to this story. Bringing a sense of more severe need, and the way in which so many people in our current society blur the lines of what struggle is considered to look like.

Anything Else?

Shoe Lady is a clever and insightful piece of theatre that while, at times, can feel slightly wrung out, ultimately tells the story of so many of us, who appear to have so much and yet are so terrified by the nothingness that surrounds us.

Amy x

Shoe Lady is playing at the Royal Court Theatre until the 21st March 2020.

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