CamdenNewJournal

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Review: So Many Reasons, at Camden People’s Theatre

Savvy observational comedy from ridiculously talented performer in fun and important one-woman monologue

26 January, 2018 — By Sabrina Dougall

Racheal Ofori in So Many Reasons

RACHEAL Ofori’s drama is billed as “a blistering indictment of British society” – but if you go expecting that, I suggest you might be disappointed.

Instead, the theatregoer is pleasantly surprised by modern wit, savvy observational comedy and a ridiculously talented solo performer.

If I told you So Many Reasons is a one-woman monologue of a British Ghanaian woman, Melissa, who is grappling with a changing view of family, her body, sexuality and God, that would only be half the story.

Admittedly, attendees at the Camden People’s Theatre were hardly diverse. Like the majority of the opening night audience for the Calm Down, Dear feminism festival, I am a young, white, middle-class British woman. Yet it would be a mistake to pigeon-hole Ofori’s performance as only suitable for one type of feminist.

Whatever age, colour, gender or persuasion someone is from – if you like sex and talented acting, this show is for you.

A stand-out element of the piece is the soundscape, which is timed to perfection. More often than not, the enraptured viewer hardly notices the seamless aural augmentations of Ofori’s animated speech. A memorable moment is Mel’s recollection of a sprint race during girlhood, broken down to Matrix-like slow-motion, the character’s zeal accented by controlled acrobatics.

The backdrop – a set of neon shapes alternately resembling Jesus Christ, a palm tree, the labia or a clitoris – worked as a colourful auxiliary among a creatively furnished stage.

I’ve seen a number of plays waste this same performance space, but this was not one of them.

Ofori, directed by Zoe Lafferty, has honed her transitions, melding carefully chosen costume and makeup changes to flesh out each snapshot of Melissa’s life. There’s not much of a plot, but that hardly matters given Ofori’s spirited comedy.

The best part of the show, however, is the multitude of characters. Ofori’s signature inhale and shoulder-shift signalled each switch into a new persona and made me laugh virtually every time. Occasional wobbles on poetic sections (a fair few clichés and awkward metre timings) did not detract too much from an overall fun and important play.

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