Photo: Carol Rosegg
Written by Emmanuel Darley (adapted and translated by Matthew Hurt and Sarah Vermande) and directed by Simon Stokes, Tuesday at Tesco's stars Simon Callow. While it's sort of a one-person show, Callow shares the stage with musician Conor Mitchell, who accompanies Pauline's periodic dance breaks, which are physical expressions of her emotions and personality. When not playing, Mitchell takes notes, slumps at the piano, and otherwise pulls focus. Together, the dances and Mitchell's presence add little and take away a lot. They would not be missed in a show that feels oddly long at 75 minutes.
Pauline's story is a simple one, so the power is in the telling. Darley/Hurt/Vermande's writing has some vivid moments. When Pauline talks about people constantly staring, you feel her lack of privacy and sense of being judged continuously. When she talks about her father's pointing out her stubble, you feel her pain at his ridicule. And when a friend of her father's treats her with complete respect and acceptance, you feel her deep pleasure.
However, Tuesdays at Tesco's is also painfully repetitious. While some of the repetition works, as in Pauline's frequent evocation of "As I am. Myself. Me" (and variations thereof), much of it just feels, well, repetitive. Despite the play's interesting subject and attempts at being meaningful and hard-hitting, it is actually a slight piece.
As a result, the evening is about Callow. I just couldn't buy him as a transwoman. When Pauline speaks about her father, and Callow switches briefly into his voice, Pauline's father feels real and three-dimensional in a way that Pauline never does. Callow's performance as Pauline always feels like a performance.
A story like Pauline's could and should be deeply moving. However, Tuesdays at Tesco's only occasionally achieves that effect.
(7th row; press ticket)