Soho Theatre, London – until 22 September 2018
Leah loves life. She works in a Savile Row shop and shares a flat with her best mate. It gets even better when she meets Ben Cavendish, a new customer at work, and things starts turning into a real-life fairytale. But real life isn’t a fairytale – awful things happen and endings aren’t always happily ever after.
This vibrant monologue states that the traditionally cishet feminine goal of love, marriage and gaining an MRS goes wrong because women are held accountable for things that aren’t their fault. From cooking for the in-laws to wedding planning, to other people’s drunken actions, women are always to blame. Though many of these have little impact, some have the power to ruin a woman’s life.
Abi Zakarian’s writing is smart and visceral. She tells Leah’s story with no filter, effectively capturing the ingrained misogyny that women encounter on a daily basis, even from other women. Seemingly minor offences that are brushed off in the every day accumulate until the worst happens – yet this is still women’s fault. Though the writing oozes love, passion and enthusiasm, there is a lining of rage that underpins Leah’s effervescence.
Though Leah is a detailed, specific character rather than an everywoman, her experiences of assault are those of all women. Nancy Sullivan plays Leah with an abundance of energy and charisma. She flies around the stage narrating her experiences at work, early dates with Ben, wedding planning and time with her mates. She is unashamedly confident, vulnerable and wholly compelling.
This is a little play with ferocity, venom and fight. Though the story it tells is horrendous, it also fights back.