PICKLE at the Park Theatre
“brims with gags”
Deli Segal’s Pickle, a one-woman show which is in the midst of a limited run the Park Theatre, is energetic and full of laughs. Segal’s playwriting debut follows Ari Fish, a 29-year-old Jewish woman who lives with her parents in Finchley, as she navigates her semi-cloistered Jewish community and an alienating secular life. Ari encounters awkward conversations at work and unfavourable comparisons to her frummer (more observant) brother at home. Dating becomes a treacherous choice between cringe-worthy family setups and endless faux pas from non-Jewish Hinge hookups. Segal’s impressions of the characters that surround Ari are specific and her performance is solid throughout.
Ari’s Jewish guilt, in the form of voiceover and a blue wash, barges in at inopportune moments. Though working with voiceover in one-person shows can be tricky, the decision to reserve it for this voice in Ari’s head, allowing Segal to inhabit the other characters in Ari’s life, makes for a seamless incorporation. Segal plays across from the voiceover with excellent comedic timing.
Pickle brims with gags, from a scroll laden with in-community references detailing the spectrum of London Jews from frum to not frum at all, to drunken karaoke performance of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’. These mostly go over quite well. One particular gag, the retelling of a bris gone wrong featuring foreskin and salmon, leans excessively into slapstick and gross-out humour, which grates against the overall tone of the piece.
Transitions, both in terms of Emily Rose Simon’s sound design and Laura Wohlwend’s movement direction, tend to fall flat. Songs cut in and out abruptly without a related physical response. The accompanying movement feels uninspired and unspecific—the energy present in the rest of Segal’s performance does not carry over to these moments.
Though the writing at times becomes bogged down in explanation, which takes away space for Ari’s character to develop, Pickle is an entertaining and informative watch.
Reviewed on 16th November 2022
by JC Kerr
Photography by Danny Kaan
Previously reviewed at this venue: