Theatre Review - Kate

Kate Berlant in Kate at Soho Theatre [Emilio Madrid]

From our arrival we know this one-woman show is going to be about narcissism. At the foot of the stairs, we are met with two frames. One contains a headshot of Kate Berlant, American comedian and actress, next to it a mirror “for the audience”. Black and white photographs of  Kate follow our ascent to the theatre, front of house staff wear teeshirts and caps emblazoned with her name.

As we wait for the show to begin, we watch a video of Kate on loop. We are then given another 5-minute video reel as a sort of entrée. This is a performance within a performance, but it’s already rather tedious and Kate hasn’t stepped on stage yet.

This is her first scripted show, it’s “theatre”! The loose narrative is Kate’s desire to hit the big time – if she can make herself cry in an audition. She takes us through her childhood ambition to perform, the move to NY where she toys with the idea of breaking into film but realises she might be too hammy. As if to prove her point, Kate plays her mother with a cod Irish accent and a stage hand with a poor attempt at cockney.

In the latter half, Kate tries to force a tear to roll down her cheek on camera, to prove her authenticity and worth as an actress. But the joke is: instead of becoming a mega star she’s ended up performing in a 180-seater in Soho, London, and hopes Steve, a Disney+ executive, has picked up his comp.

Kate plays on the self-indulgence of comic performance, the over-sharing, the pleasure of allowing one’s ego free rein, and she has many in the audience in stitches. Her humour recalls that of French and Saunders – maybe that’s why it feels familiar.

To September 30

Originally published by Westminster Extra