BWW Review: SUPERHOE, Attenborough Centre For The Contemporary Arts
Nicole Lecky brings her sell-out London show to Brighton Festival. Due to an unforeseen injury, this performance was adapted after Lecky suffered a twisted ankle. Directed by Jade Lewis and in collaboration between the Talawa Theatre Company and The Royal Court Theatre, Superhoe is a one-handed piece, written and performed by Lecky.
She plays the role of Sasha Clayton, a frustrated aspiring singing-rapper living in Plaistow, East London. Superhoe tells the story of her teens and twenties, and how the decisions she makes, or events that come her way, lead her to a life she never expected.
Lecky is extremely engaging as Sasha. She goes on an incredible arc from a moody and explosive girl she is at the start of the show to a helpless and world-weary woman.
The description in the festival programme gives the impression of a relatively light coming-of-age story, less gritty than the narrative that actually takes place which may come as a surprise for those in attendance.
The nature of this adapted performance will likely remain the same for the remainder of its run in Brighton meaning it would be unfair to comment on Prema Mehta's lighting design and movement directed by Sara Dos Santos which was minimised to allow Lecky to give as full a performance as she could in her capacity.
The show's design, made in collaboration between the Royal Court Stage Department and Chloe Lamford, is an intriguing mix of pale pink walls, reminiscent of a teenager's bedroom, while also having a replica cash machine at the far left of the stage.
It is assumed Lecky would have interacted with the cash machine in the original staging. The cash machine cleverly appears to symbolise the cross-road moments of Sasha's life, while also mimicking that of trivial online personality quizzes.
Ewan Jones Morris' Graphics and video design appears on a portrait orientated screen to mimic that of a mobile phone, and what appears on the ATM machine. The endless social media feeds and blurred out content are powerful transitions between scenes.
Lecky is dressed in light sportswear which suited the character really well. A puffy jacket was hung up on the far right of the set which was assumed to be worn at some point.
The music, written by The Last Skeptic and Nicole Lecky, is catchy and used to break up the chapters of Sasha's story. Applause and delight breaks out from the audience during Lecky's performance.
Emma Laxton's sound design contains nice details such as the faint rumble of a train when Sasha is travelling and an appropriate digital soundscape when there is activity on the screen.
While a story that should be deservedly told, Superhoe is a very different show from what was expected. It is a hard hitting tale of the dangers facing impressionable young people in the age of social media. Lecky has written a powerful piece and holds the audience in her grasp as she embodies Sasha Clayton.
Superhoe at the Attenborough Centre for Contemporary Arts until 21 May.
Photo credit: Niall McDiarmid