Doing A Reverse Kimmy

Garden, Written and Performed by Lucy Grace, Sweet Waterfront 2, Brighton Fringe, Brighton, Monday, 9th May, 6.30pm.

There's nothing like the big city to make you feel lonely. Only matched by doing a one person show in the Brighton Fringe Festival maybe.

In a meeting room in the old Thistle Hotel, doing the early shift, while the sun still shines outside, where no one can hear you scream. It's a fairly dystopian setting, a giant internal courtyard, without a view, (the beach is just across the road - what were they thinking?) the odd hotel guest, two students doing their homework.

We, the audience, after looking quizzically at a table on one side with a jug of orange juice, seemingly set for breakfast or for some mythical conference (Surely the orange juice will go off? Is it for us?) are allowed into a small meeting room, festooned with black drapes to give a theatrical flavour. On stage, waiting, is the brave Lucy, behind a pot plant.

If you are familiar with the television series, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, created by Tina Fey and others, you will know that Kimmy was kidnapped and kept in a bunker for 15 years, a modern, mid-western Rip Van Winkle.

Lucy's character, also Lucy, travels the reverse path. Desperate to connect, somehow, with anything, she kidnaps a plant from her workplace, an office, involved in financial management, and proceeds to build herself and the plant into a bunker in her flat, many floors up.

The plant is subsequently joined by an unfortunate pigeon, and finally by Lucy solus, determined to connect with the earth and nature in the absence of other options.

This is a surreal, somewhat disturbing, somewhat sad, especially given that we have to walk back through the fairly surreal hotel foyer afterwards, somewhat desperate plea for an answer to the great problem of the invention of the idea of sitting in front of computers which, as Lucy says, is clearly bonkers but which everyone is now too embarrassed to do anything about.

Lucy Grace is a committed and determined performer. The characters she creates are well observed and fun. I just wish she'd taken the concept and the surrealism further. There is an opportunity for something transcendently crazy in a reverse Kimmy Schmidt. Lucy certainly has the charisma and technique to make a sharper point about enforced conformity, the bunkers we all build.

Paul Corcoran