Written by Martha Watson Allpress
Directed by Kaleya Baxe
Performed by Angelina Chudi
There’s absolutely nothing worse than running into your Ex right? The awkwardness, the ambition to be in a better place, the latent feelings of adoration, anxiety, and fear. Yes, fear. For some, running into an Ex is an annoyance, and for others, it might be a chance of re-connection. But for some, running into an ex re-opens a festering wound, something others may think is healed, but nevertheless tender.
An abused woman isn’t what you think she is. And face it, there’s a pre-conception, a synonymous image media has proliferated across the decades. Something palatable, without too many questions, a symbolic representation of systemic issues, but not too offensive, of course. But it isn’t a match for reality. She isn’t weak, isn’t a martyr, she isn’t any less or any more than you or I. She still bleeds the same way, and you have no idea who she is, and that’s the difficulty.
Patricia Gets Ready will eviscerate pre-conceptions, it will deconstruct the ideologies of people who think of themselves as champions of rights, people who couldn’t see their loved ones as victims and need to ask “why didn’t you leave?“. Not only will it modify the concept of victimisation and tilted heads of “Aw, shame“, but it will also do so with a cigarette in its hand, a mouthful of Mojito and one hell of an attitude and chuckle.
It’s been a year, a whole year of constructing what she would say to the man who abused her, who distorted the perceptions of love and self-value. And after accidentally agreeing to dinner with this person, Patricia spends the next 24hours getting ready, psyching herself up, picking out a dress and reflecting on the person who hurt her in unimaginable ways.
For an hour, the audience loses themselves to a presence of such intensity, that they aren’t an audience, they’re involved. A presence that offers guidance, reinforcement, and connection with Angelina Chudi as she tries on dresses, makes jabs at the men she has encountered, and laugh at the façade men produce. The delivery is profoundly natural, Chudi isn’t performing. This is a person – a friend, a sister, a daughter, which could have been cast in misery or pity pathos, but with Kalye Baxe’s direction is an honour to watch.
Almost meaningless, the snaps of Patricia’s fingers command the mechanics around her – from lighting cues to audio changes, there’s a sense of clawing back a medium of control utilised within the production’s design work – a subtle but exceptional feature at the creative hands of Steven Frost, Ella Clarke and Beth Duke.
And as much as we may harp on the prestige of the production, how Martha Watson Allpress structures the narrative around is comedic, authentic and (unfortunately) relatable. Chudi’s sense of comedy ripples across the production, whether physical or in delivery, the show encourages emotions of all ilk from the crowd and promotes laughter and inclusivity.
Guttural, proud and strong, Angelina Chudi doesn’t pander or belittle, and it’s all the audience can do without erupting to cheer in the frankness of the final delivery. Patricia Gets Ready (For a Date With a Man Who Used to Hit Her) will challenge unknown biases, but will do so in a safe and comforting manner – there are no judgements, just an openness with tight, raw writing and a lead performance which will likely help and hopefully save lives.
It isn’t a bombastic finale, and it respectfully refrains from either a distinctly felicitous or content ending, rather it closes with a diffusion, which in turn has a resonating impact, a silence from the crowds before an unholy amount of claps and tears.
If, whilst reading this article, you have been impacted by, want to know how you can help, or have been involved with domestic, or any form of abuse, we implore readers to reach out to any of the organisations below. Or if you feel comfortable, we’re always happy to make time if you want to have a chat, a safe space, or a distraction with no questions asked and our emails and contact page are always open.
Patricia Gets Ready (For a Date With the Man That Used to Hit Her) runs at Edinburgh International Conference Centre until August 29th. Tickets are available here.