They say that natural born artists can transform their suffering into beautiful art. Award-winning comedian Richard Gadd must be one of them. In 2016, he received the Edinburgh Comedy Award for his show Monkey See Monkey Do and he’s now the proud author and interpreter of a star-studded, yet more award-winning, scripted drama.
His gripping autobiographical play Baby Reindeer retraces the steps of his ordeal at the hands of a stalker. The way it started, the little mistakes that fed it, until the present day, the devious perpetrator still out there, still potentially free to cause even more damage.
As the lights go down, we are brutally plunged into the mood of the story. A mashup of voicemail recordings and emails projected onto the ceiling of the Summerhall’s Roundabout serve as evidence of a disturbed mind. These all come from a woman called Martha Scott, a delusional stalker who found her way into Richard’s life one step at the time.
It all began in January 2014, when the 45-year old woman walked into the pub where Gadd was working. When he offered to serve her, she said she couldn’t afford to buy anything. Out of courtesy, he then brought her a cup of tea. After that, she visited the pub every day, making up stories about being an established barrister and owner of multiple properties.
Eventually, Richard started adding pieces to the puzzle, noticing the discrepancies in her stories, questioning her real identity. Only too late he realised her frightening attachment to him, when she began to send him thousands of daily emails, showed up at all his gigs, and turning abusive to his girlfriend and family.
For most of his blistering performance Gadd stands on a revolving platform, as if falling into a downward spiral. His deep husky voice lets through all the pain, the anger, the sheer desperation that he’s experienced in the past few years. Sometimes fear-stricken, other times more hopeful, his account is a sickening vivid portrayal of how easy it is to capsize someone’s life within the boundaries of legality. We appreciate his bloodshot honesty, his parting from the most scarring details of his private life. We praise his vulnerability and we want to stretch a hand out to reassure him that everything will be OK.
Written and Performed by: Richard Gadd
Director: Jon Brittain
Producer: Francesca Moody Productions
Box Office: +44 (0)131 226 0000
Booking Link: https://www.bushtheatre.co.uk/event/baby-reindeer/
Booking Until: This show will transfer to Bush Theatre, running from 9 October to 9 November 2019.