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Skank

Clementine Bogg-Hargroves
Stanley Arms, Preston

A play in which a young single woman bares her pleading heart and conflicted soul to her audience is bound to draw comparisons with Fleabag...

And like Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Clementine Bogg-Hargroves also gives both barrels in a one-woman show that is fast, funny, sometimes filthy and unafraid to take her audience into darker places.

It’s an internal examination, in more ways than one, of the life of Katie, a 20-something office worker, ground down by workplace boredom, dreaming of ensnaring Sexy Gary, planning on becoming a writer and so obsessed with doing the right thing that she carries an empty tin of baked beans everywhere... intent on getting it recycled one day soon. As the play’s title suggests, she has an unworthy opinion of herself.

Bogg-Hargroves, however, is out to make a name for herself, with a performance that is bold, brave, but occasionally a little too breathless. In 60 minutes, she races through enough material, and comic situations, to satisfy a longer timespan. She, and director Zoey Barnes, could do with giving Katie, and her audience, a little more time to breathe.

Some of the time she’s responding to the prerecorded ‘voices off’ of characters she encounters, which demands reacting to workmates, her boss, suitors, a flatmate and medics. But then there’s far more physical fun to be had when she actually grapples with the aforementioned Gary.

It's all a neat and entertaining premise, written and performed by a young actress with a winning confidence that’s already earned her plaudits at Greater Manchester Fringe Festival. It’s been brought to this city centre pub venue by Preston-based producer Garry Cook who seems to be single-handedly keeping small-scale theatre shining in town, while the next-door Guild Hall remains dark.

Another capacity audience would suggest it’s meeting a demand.

Reviewer: David Upton