Reviewed – 22nd May 2018
“carefully-designed, well-written, brilliantly performed show; a comedy with bite which tells a gripping story”
Sugar Baby, the one-man show written by Alan Harris and performed by Alex Griffin-Griffiths, is a sixty minute comedy roller-coaster. It’s outlandish, funny, and very entertaining. We follow Marc on his journey during one crazy day in Cardiff involving drug dealers, £6000, and Billy the seal. “Seriously, there’s a seal in this story,” Marc tells us at the beginning of the show, setting the tone for the fantastical plot.
Griffin-Griffiths plays Marc, a young man from Cardiff who loves his dad, hasn’t seen his mum in years, and works as a drug dealer, but only makes about £200 a week; “I know, not exactly Pablo Escobar, but it keeps me going.” Griffin-Griffiths does a fantastic job not only playing Marc but a multitude of characters including Oggy, the slimy loan shark; Lisa, the girl who used to fancy him in school; and his mum, Celia. The most notable thing about his performance is his physicality; he plays these characters extremely over the top, giving them each a distinctive physical quirk which makes the quick switching between them clear, but also amusing. Catherine Paskell’s superb direction definitely deserves a mention as, unlike many solo plays, the space is used imaginatively and moves the story forward at an exciting pace.
Alan Harris’ dark and funny script really holds you as an audience member. It’s a little unclear if we are supposed to suspend our disbelief and believe that everything this charming, but clearly unreliable, narrator is telling us, or if we are supposed to view the show as some kind of insane fantasy, at least in part. Either way, the script is witty and crude and a very good story. The ending could be a little stronger, but Harris does succeed in making us root for his complicated protagonist from start to finish, which is no easy feat.
The lighting is simple with a couple of nice specials when time seems to slow down and everything goes a bit “Matrixy,” to paraphrase Marc. Daniel Lawrence’s sound design is excellent, with grime music underpinning almost every scene but without ever distracting from the story.
Overall, Sugar Baby is carefully-designed, well-written, brilliantly performed show; a comedy with bite which tells a gripping story.
Reviewed for thespyinthestalls.com
Photography by Kirsten McTernan
Soho Theatre until 2nd June
Previously reviewed at this venue