Danny Coleman-Cooke reviews Richard Gadd’s Baby Reindeer which is now playing at the Bush Theatre in London.
11 October 2019
I thought I’d been through this before. A few years I ago, I was enraptured by Richard Gadd’s Monkey See Monkey Do, a visceral and intense confessional monologue about the sexual abuse he suffered and how it had derailed his life and his comedy career.
Not only did he deliver it whilst running several miles a treadmill, but he also told what seemed to me like a story of closure; overcoming the trauma of the abuse by telling the story on his terms.
Little did I know that while he was performing this award-winning show, he was going through yet another hell, under some of the most intense pressure imaginable. That is the story of Baby Reindeer, the tale of a stalker who after a brief social encounter latches onto Gadd and develops a lasting and terrifying obsession.
She writes hundreds of emails a day, leaves hours of voicemails, comes to his shows, and even tracks down his address and his family.
The quickfire multimedia format of Gadd’s shows lends itself well towards this story, as it allows for messages, recordings and interviews to be played throughout, showing the scale of the campaign of harassment.
Gadd’s performance is electrifying; although he is not on a treadmill this time he must get a similar workout as he strides and marches around the stage, switching between panic, fury and some very entertaining flashes of humour.
It is a masterfully written script, commendably open about his own mistakes and showing bravery in recounting conversations that don’t always show him in the best light.
Baby Reindeer is a raw and complex story, that serves as a useful public service showing how much more support is needed for victims like Gadd, and how gender stereotypes can prove unhelpful in getting to the truth.
This show will put you through the sensory and emotional wringer but is a vital story, brilliantly told by one of the most innovative artists on stage at the moment. A must-see.
Until 9 November 2019 at Bush Theatre, London