The first in a season of double-bills at the Park Theatre showcasing exceptional new voices features two one-act plays that have had previous runs at the venue. Both pieces at this Make Me A Double evening are carried along by the comic charms and exuberant zeal of the actors. If not exactly thematically linked, they share a vein of mordant humour. As refined and polished as they may be after previous incarnations, the performers invest such enthusiasm and energy into the material the audience could easily be fooled into thinking both shows have just freshly blasted into life. 

Credit: Danny Kaan


First up is Deli Segal’s one-woman show Pickle. As the audience assembles, lively music plays while an assemblage of women offer sweets. A party atmosphere is invoked. Close in structure to stand-up, Segal hilariously, harrowingly explores her struggle to negotiate the demands of her Jewish faith with a more secular life. Although assigning the central character the name of Ari, a North Londoner from Finchley, she is unmistakably Segal. A constant nagging matriarchal conscience dogs her every move, unproductively commenting on her every failure to observe tradition. She is chastised for countless misdeeds and missteps. The journey of the play is to find a place in which the voice quiets. With fearless candour, Segal investigates sexual misadventure (her love of goyish boys vs the nice Jewish boys with which her family continually sets her up), differences in British vs New York Jews, battles with her overbearing family (especially her insufferably perfect sister-in-law), the assumptions and customs of her non-Jewish friends and the quirks of still living at home at age 29 and 3/4. At one point she amusingly unfurls a scroll detailing a sliding scale of proper Jewish practice and observance, an instructive lesson in the concept of “frum” vs. “non-frum.” Segal even breaks it down regionally across London. She is, as she confesses, the perfect mix of exotic and neurotic for the non-Jewish population.

Credit: Danny Kaan

Some of the finer nuance may be lost on a gentile audience, but Segal is such an engaging and generous performer that it hardly matters. There is much beyond specifics that is relatable to anyone’s battle to construct an authentic self. She discovers, one night, a form of salvation at an alternative Purim celebration in Dalston.  The experience provides a perfect synthesis of what she has been seeking, far from anyone else’s definition or influence. The final moment feels like deliverance. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.


In Anything With A Pulse, Rufus Love and Annie Davison find an exquisite chemistry. Meeting tentatively across a nightclub floor, they are helplessly, heedlessly pulled into each other’s orbit. They dance with silly abandon, for a moment free of doubt or tension, enjoying each other’s lack of defence. They steal outside for a conversation – there is the woozy possibility that something monumental could happen. A number is taken. Promises to reply. Eliana Ostro’s two-hander, with the aid of her skilled cast, unfolds along two tracks. On the surface, the two would-be lovers struggle to communicate, surrendering to boast, bluster and cool reserve, all protective armour. Both blunder into the most comically outrageous and inappropriate statements. A separate interior monologue of all the honest things they long to say to each other courses underneath. This open, tender, affectionate communication is a voice strangled by fear and insecurity. The vulnerability is a state too raw to risk. His group of friends, with tribal alpha-male machismo, only care for stories of conquest and casual sex. She prefers to believe that she is better off independent. They finally get together, then fatefully fail to act at a crucial moment, allowing a critical opportunity to pass. Too much time elapses and they drift, neither one wanting to expose themselves. Eventually each settles into mediocre relationships with new people. She cheerfully ignores her boyfriend’s controlling behaviour and he his girlfriend’s serial cheating. Occasionally, a jocular exchange from the past will be recalled to be met with bewilderment or disdain by the new partner. It’s a painful reminder that they shared – or began to share – the intimate dialogue of a couple. A closed conversation only they understand. And that they still occupy a space in each other’s minds. A chance encounter after months, on the same dance floor, proves the attraction was no fluke. A moment is repeating. Will the couple finally get it right? Or will they tragically miss out again?

It is great credit to Ostro’s writing and the sensitive performances of Love and Davison that beneath the comedic breakneck pace a steady swell of melancholy gathers as the couple’s lack of trust and defensive gamesmanship dismantles any chance at true connection. The two actors are masterful at negotiating both dimensions. Love and Davison play all other characters in the work, reinforcing the idea that these two people have a heavy and influential presence in each other’s lives and are perhaps true soulmates whether or not the reality is ever achieved. It’s heartbreaking to contemplate that the two may never quite triumph. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The next pairing in this season arrives in a few weeks with two dramas. If they reach the quality heights of this first programme, an audience is in for a treat. 

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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