Four Weddings and a Funeral star Simon Callow has wowed Fringe audiences in the past with his one man shows about Dickens and Shakespeare.
Here he embarks on something completely different, as he turns out in drag to play Pauline (formerly Paul), a transexual who spends every Tuesday looking after ‘her’ grumpy old bear of a dad, and taking him shopping at Tescos, in what is the first UK adaptation of 2009 French hit Le Mardi a Monoprix.
It’s a curious, at times humorous, but ultimately moving piece about identity and being true to yourself, as well as the strains of looking after an elderly parent..
Which, in the case of middle-aged domestic goddess Pauline means putting up with the stares and whispers of people from the community he grew up in as boy as he/she trawls the aisles at Tescos on weekly visits home. Not to mention suffer the disappointment and disapproval of a recently widowed father who wishes she would go back to being Paul.
“Myself. Me. Transformed” Pauline says of the way she chooses to live. And you can’t help thinking “You go girl” at his/her insistence not to buckle under the weight of the decision to dress and live as a woman and be comfortable in her own skin, stubble or no stubble.
Even if throughout you are aware of the fragile nature of Pauline’s independence and wince at the attitudes of those around her.
That said Emmanuel Darley’s 75 minute monologue has more than its fair share of dull passages, and Callow’s playing of it in blond wig and high heels, is over the top and overly theatrical, where a more subtle approach might reap better dividends.
The end too feels clichéd. And quite what director Simon Stokes had in mind by having a pianist on stage intermittently tinkling the ivories while Callow goes off into some weird dance is anybody’s guess.
Simon Callow in Tuesday at Tescos, Assembly Hall, Edinburgh, until Aug 29. Tel: 0131 623 3030