REVIEW: Vicki and Pat in Fuerteventura (Theatre 503) ★★★★
We’ve all been there: the all-inclusive week-long getaway to somewhere in Europe, filling our days with poolside politics, being pressured into dreadful activities from the entertainment team and stuffing ourselves stupid at the buffet three times per day. The British dream, right?
This is the case for Vicki and Pat, two women who find themselves seated poolside next to one another for two long, eventful days. Conversations covering all manner of topics commence, covering husbands, eating habits, social media, TV show obsessions, all the way back to those awkward school years. Do these two seemingly very different women actually have the potential to form a meaningful bond, previously unexpected by both of them?
Ellen Chivers has created two vibrant characters in this piece. Firstly, played by Chivers herself, we have Pat: she’s quirky, very chatty, perhaps a little bit socially unaware, but adorably endearing. She is the kind of friend that makes you cringe yet smile within the same breath – and her slightly kleptomaniac tendencies relating to the buffet are still making me laugh even now: “It’s not stealing if it’s all-inclusive!”
On the other cuff we have Vicki (Rachael Henley), the self-confessed ‘it girl’ whose love of antioxidants and celebrity life stories could not be further from Pat’s taste. Vicki is, at first, resistant to Pat’s excitable presence, but quickly reveals herself to be equally as rambunctious. The ladies serve up several short scenes of events and discussions that reveal a much greater depth to their personalities, with some deeply poignant and relatable topics being covered. Both Chivers and Henley do an excellent job of gradually weaning out the truths in the other, and slowly revealing the more private features of their lives – an excellent duo on stage.
The chopping and changing betweens scenes worked really well and kept the play moving at a timely pace, so there was never the threat of boredom at any stage. The set was very minimalist, requiring the audience to mentally create a summer poolside setting around the two sun loungers and a few simple props. The overlay of classic holiday sounds created a helpful addition to the very simple visuals, but overall the production would have benefited from a bigger investment in decoration and lighting effects.
It’s always refreshing when a production does what it says on the tin and isn’t trying to take itself too seriously – in the case of ‘Vicki and Pat’, we receive light-hearted fun and some fabulously witty content. I would like to see Pat and Vicki return in further pieces, as individually they are well-developed characters and together are a delightful comedy duo. With some further fleshing out and a change of scenery and circumstances, a follow-up from their Fuerteventura antics would be a delicious treat.
Reviewed by Laura Evans