Patricia Gets Ready (For a Date With the Man That Used to Hit Her) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
One of the things that drew me to go and see this was the title. I had watched a few shows with ambiguous titles and vague descriptions of what the plays themselves entailed, so right off the bat I knew I wouldn’t have to spend X amount of time trying to figure out what was going on here.
From the get-go this solo show (written by Martha Watson Allpress) throws us into the moment that Patricia bumps into her ex on the street and, under pressure, submits to his invite of meeting him for dinner at a restaurant, later that evening.
When Patricia gets home that’s when the anxiety and dread kicks in as she berates herself for not saying what she really wanted to say to her ex. After all, he had abused her, beat her and left her a broken person because of it.
Angelina Chudi’s performance as Patricia was engaging and felt raw and real enough that I really did buy her as a woman who had become stronger despite the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her ex. The writing really helped us understand and believe her conflicting feelings about whether or not she should go to the dinner. There was something else though. There was a fragility simmering underneath the surface and you could see it and hear it, both in the writing and the performance.
One of the things I liked overall was that the story avoided typical cliches associated with the subject matter; the details about the abuse didn’t come into the play until half way into the production. And when it did come it felt honest, with minute details and descriptions that placed us at the incidents themselves. This was not a tale solely of an angry woman. It was a tale of a woman going through many emotions and at odds with herself, whilst trying to stay strong.
It’s a play that is filled with a lot of dialogue and not a great deal of action. Yet I still found that for the majority of the 1 hour running time I was engrossed in Patricia’s storytelling. The direction broke up some of the scenes nicely with the radio and telephone used as intermittent fillers. And Chudi’s believability as the character of Patricia was so convincing that I was really surprised to find out that she was not the writer of the play itself, even though she really did make it feel like this was her own personal story that she brought to the Fringe.
Overall it was a solid, highly personal drama that drew the audience in with each passing minute. It’s not a show you’ll come out of feeling on top of the world from, but I suppose, in a way, that is the point. And what a good job of it it makes.