FestivalsReviewSouth East

BRIGHTON FRINGE: I am not Victoria Wood – Sweet Werks 2

Creator: Julia Knight

Reviewer: Simon Topping

Maddy North shot to fame by performing as Lancastrian comedy legend Victoria Wood (or VW as Maddy calls her) in a talent show. For several years she has been performing as a tribute up and down the country but now, as her star wains, she is a crisis point. As she auditions for a new show can she rediscover her own voice and what is that? The audience find out as we are taken on a journey through Maddy’s dilemma to be, or not to be Victoria Wood.

As live work dries up, Maddy takes to video blogging. She records a behind the scenes look at what it is to be a VW impersonator with the odd song, character piece and viewer competition thrown in for good measure. The vlogs become more and more popular but don’t make Maddy any happier. She has a sense of foreboding as fans blur the lines between what is real and what is not and the fame surrounding her rings increasingly hollow to her.

Written and performed by Julia Knight the piece moves from very funny VW skits to melancholy, as North’s life is examined. Invoking the essence of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads monologues, Knight has crafted a sad, yet likeable character whose go-getting attitude is at odds with her current situation in the doldrums.

Knight captures VW very well, especially when North bursts into different characters which have made VW popular. Particularly funny are overzealous questionnaire taker and the child attempting to swim the English channel.

Knight also shines performing snippets of VW’s songbook. Pretend to be Northern and the Weight Watchers song go down particularly well in the room but all the songs are greeted with plenty of laughter and lots of applause. Knight could have included more of these slices of Wood. More of the vintage sketch moments would have been lapped up by the crowd.

The strength and star of the show is VW’s well-loved material, but at the nucleus of I am Not Victoria Wood, contains a solid performance by Knight, who is a confident and professional performer with lovely clowning abilities. If you are a VW fan it is well worth a watch.

Reviewed on 7 May 2019 | Image: Contributed

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