On the Showbiz Beat: There’s no rest for this one-woman show

Jodie Prenger as Shirley Valentine. Photo by Manuel Harlan

I like to think I’m a walking, talking one-woman show. Yes, I have great support from friends, family and colleagues, but mostly I work alone, I parent alone and I even spend a huge amount of my free time on my own. It’s not always been like that, but at the ripe old age of 40, I have come to terms with the fact that the only person I can really rely is myself.

This week I’ve had a tough job juggling all of my solo engagements and it’s been extremely busy, with a deadline on the popular Lyme Regis Experience magazine-which I sell into and contribute to editorially, both of my teenagers have needed support and I’ve had to fit in some extra theatre engagements.

It’s really lovely to be in demand and I’ve worked hard to gain a favourable reputation as a theatre critic, but sometimes, I need to learn to say no, as the pressure I put myself under to succeed can impede my ability to fulfill my other roles competently and I end up with an overpowering feeling of guilt.

One PR agency representative last week described me as being “omnipresent” when it came to theatrical publications in London and with articles this week appearing in the London Weekly News and the South London Press, on the theatrical websites, West End Wilma and Broadway World, my weekly spot on BBC Radio Kent and this for the View From Newspapers, I do seem to be covering quite a lot of bases.

Ironically three of the five shows I’ve seen this week have had strong women at the centre (not that I think I’m a particularly strong woman!) and after a visit to see An American in Paris (absolutely beautiful) I was treated to a sensational solo cabaret show by former Wicked star Rachel Tucker, before I headed to Richmond Theatre to see Jodie Prenger as Shirley Valentine. The 30th anniversary revival of Willy Russell’s one-woman play was glorious and Prenger gave some real glamour to the famous housewife.

It was during the interval in Richmond that I learned of the atrocities, which were occurring in Westminster. I switched on my phone and was greeted with panicked messages from family and friends desperately trying to find out if I was safe.

I’ll admit, I struggled to concentrate on the second act and I almost decided to cancel my central London theatre trip that evening, but there is a steely determination amongst Londoners that the terrorists will not win and as I now see myself as an honorary city girl, I felt it would have been cowardly of me not to continue with my day in support and defiance.

I’m not professing to being brave, the brave ones were the medical staff, police and general public who ran to assist those injured in the attack, but I did feel that I mustn’t let the perpetrators of this type of incident influence the trajectory of my day.

The tube journey back into central London was just the same as usual and although Westminster station was closed and it did feel a bit eerie as the rush hour train passed the empty platforms, Londoners went about their business with their normal level of purpose and poise.

After pausing to take stock, I continued with my working day and went to see The Miser starring Griff Ryhs Jones, Lee Mack and Mathew Horne, which was extremely disappointing, but I was pleased to see the show go ahead and the theatre was full.

I then returned to the South West to put the Lyme Regis Experience to bed, before heading down to Exeter to review Kay Mellor’s A Passionate Woman, which starred Liza Goddard and was a little bit strange.

There’s no let up next week, when I have a deadline on the Seaton, Beer and Colyton Experience magazine and an interview with the comedian Reginald D Hunter, who is performing both in Lyme Regis and Shepherd’s Bush, so I can cover both of my areas.

I’m also going to see the acclaimed musical The Life at Southwark Playhouse, Escape the Scaffold at Theatre 503 and I’ll be seeing Broadchurch and former Doctor Who star David Tennant in Don Juan In Soho at the Wyndham’s Theatre.

I think this one-woman show could do with taking a leaf out of Shirley Valentine’s book and heading off on to warmer climes again. I’d better start saving!

You can read all of my reviews and interviews on our websites londonnewsonline.co.uk and viewnews.co.uk or you can follow me on Twitter for regular updates @NickySweetland

Nicky is a former Cardiac Rehabilitation Instructor, who started to write about theatre in 2014. Nicky now covers entertainment in both the south west and London, as-well-as working on the popular Lyme Regis Experience magazine.