Soho Theatre

LUCY AND FRIENDS at the Soho Theatre


“You will leave gasping for air, and an urgent desire to wash your hands.”

Lucy McCormick returns to the Soho Theatre with another outrageous, audacious, and electrifying show that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, and with an umbrella to hand.

Is it cabaret? Is it comedy? Is it a comment on the precarious basis of artistic endeavour in 2024’s Britain? Is it, McCormick asks whilst downing a bottle of red wine, art? The answer to all of these has to be emphatically yes.

If you have come to McCormick through her galvanising performance in Emma Rice’s Wuthering Heights, or as part of the RSC’s Cowbois ensemble, you may have a shock. McCormick’s shows are loosely based on cabarets in that they contain several semi-distinct performances. She sings and dances to a professional level. There is often a throughline: previous shows have looked at women through history, and the New Testament. But then she will dial the subversive elements to eleven.

While the audience is still filing in for this show, McCormick can be seen dashing around them, dressed as a Christmas tree, handing out props to select audience members. You’re left darting your eyes between her and the stage, set up in classic cabaret style. There’s a glitter curtain backdrop, fairy lights framing that, and metal rigging surround it all like a proscenium arch. Centre stage is a pole. So far, so conventional, so Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club.

“Though some performances push the boundaries of what’s acceptable in theatres, underpinning them all is McCormick’s phenomenal talent”

Then the lights go down, McCormick takes a microphone, and immediately upends multiple theatrical conventions, taking the audience on an emotional rollercoaster. The concept behind Lucy and Friends is that having developed much of this material in the aftermath of the pandemic, there was not enough funding to support other performers. This is therefore McCormick’s first solo show, and she needs help from the audience to be her friends, community, and fellow performers.

It is hard to describe much else that happens without ruining the jokes that emerge from the unwinding of set ups. In brief then, highlights included the act with the pole, a reinterpretation of Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why”, a cat impression, and a reminder of 2016’s viral Bottle Flipping craze.

Though some performances push the boundaries of what’s acceptable in theatres, underpinning them all is McCormick’s phenomenal talent. Even the most absurd situations, that have the audience somewhere between being in stitches and shock, she is utterly in control of both herself and them. Her voice is strong, tackling big songs that juxtapose what else is happening visually. Audience members who are called upon to participate are at her beck and call. It is worth saying there is a sizable amount of nudity and sexual content, so maybe not worth seeing with family… unless you are the audience member designated to play McCormick’s mother.

Another audience member is assigned to be a critic, and McCormick narrates her own review for them, much more articulately than I have managed here. However for all the concept, callbacks and motifs, Lucy and Friends is still desperately funny. You will leave gasping for air, and an urgent desire to wash your hands.


LUCY AND FRIENDS at the Soho Theatre

Reviewed on 29th February 2024

by Rosie Thomas

Photography by Jonny Ruff



Previously reviewed at this venue:

WISH YOU WEREN’T HERE | ★★★ | February 2024
REPARATIONS | ★★★ | February 2024
SELF-RAISING | ★★★★★ | February 2024
FLIP! | ★★★★ | November 2023
BOY PARTS | ★★★★ | October 2023
BROWN BOYS SWIM | ★★★½ | October 2023
STRATEGIC LOVE PLAY | ★★★★★ | September 2023
KATE | ★★★★★ | September 2023
EVE: ALL ABOUT HER | ★★★★★ | August 2023
STRING V SPITTA | ★★★★ | August 2023
BLOODY ELLE | ★★★★★ | July 2023



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