Writer: Heath Netherton
Heath Netherton gives her audience a whistle-stop tour of almost everything in her confessional, high-octane show, covering charity work, depression, dealing with drama-school snobs, getting the coffee shakes, eating disorders, and chinchillas versus rabbits. Arriving at The Hope Theatre after running at Frome Festival, Brighton Fringe and Edinburgh Fringe, Definitely Louise is an entertaining and admirably energetic piece which trips over some muddled stylistic choices.
The show is at its best when it is personal and quirky. There are some witty quips which get laughs (why are Simon Cowell’s trousers so high?), and Netherton’s tales of trials and tribulations of the acting world are well-received. When she muses on the reasons that crying is much easier to fake than laughing, her audience is right with her.
Unfortunately, Netherton’s obvious talent is undermined by a script which jumps around so much that her energies become dissipated. The piece begins comedically before taking a much darker turn and is interrupted at various points by monologues from Netherton’s audition catalogue. Whilst these are very strong – particularly an emotional testimony from the point of a rape survivor – their presence in the show bleeds out into Netherton’s depiction of her main character. It doesn’t end up registering as entirely sincere, pulling back the emotional punch which might be expected from this kind of one-woman, up-close show. The introduction of two other actors towards the end of the piece definitively pops the bubble of intimacy which has been curated.
Without spoiling the show’s ending, it is an effectively delivered but confusing finale to a piece which seems to be unsure what it wants to be, despite some real gems of social observation. It ends up somewhere between autobiographical monologue and tragicomic three-hander; whilst it feels tired to say that a female-led, (mostly) solo show is Fleabag-derivative, Definitely Louise needs to find its own niche.
Runs until 20 November 2023