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Theatre Review: How (not) to Live in Suburbia @ Soho Theatre


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Annie Siddons' new autobiographical show How (not) to Live in Suburbia is currently playing at the Soho Theatre before touring in the Autumn to venues including Harlow Playhouse, Norwich Arts Centre and Luton Hat Factory.

The play focuses on a time in her life when she was a single mum living in Twickenham, the most married place in London, and her awkward attempts to fit in.

The small space is a perfect, intimate venue for Annie to tell her story. With the help of videos directed by Richard DeDome, How (not) to Live in Suburbia is poignant, hilarious, crude and charming.

It’s hard to comprehend that a dark play about being horribly lonely can be funny and charming but thanks to our writer and leading lady; she’s achieved more than just this.

The play is written wonderfully, with just Annie addressing us most of the time; she’s written poetically, realistically and her delivery doesn’t feel like a person talking at you for an hour. She holds the audience in the palm of her hand, ready to hear the next quip or honest description. Her poetic descriptions of her lifelong love, London, are a delight. This paired with the video visuals gets the audience share this love. She successfully lets us in without praying for pity.

The play allows us to see her vulnerability, and although she is an actor and a writer it is worth remembering that this is autobiographical, the emotion within her filmed performance is real and her truthful performance was heart-breaking, endearing and honest.

Though the majority of the play is just Annie retelling her story, we do get to meet other characters along the way.

In particular, we get to see another version of Annie, played by Nicki Hobday. She has great presence on stage and wonderful comic timing. Quite a challenge to play someone who is stood on the same stage as you. She seemed to be a larger than life version of the real Annie – it worked for comedic effect and artistry but she didn’t embody the Annie we could see in front of us.

Annie uses a lot of metaphorical imagery to share her story – the character of The Walrus represents her loneliness and she uses to olive trees to represent her daughters.

This makes for hilarity and creativity. The visuals are much more interesting and despite the metaphors, it doesn’t take away from the truth of the story.

How (not) to Live in Suburbia is a satirical joy. Beautifully written, honest and utterly hilarious.

You can find out more about the production here:  

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