Tuesday, June 25

Grown Up Orphan Annie – Gilded Balloon, Patter Hoose

Little Orphan Annie (Katherine Bourne-Taylor) has grown up into a lovable, but insecure, girl-woman with a serious Ovaltine habit. Her happy ending with Daddy Warbucks was a sham: he took all her money, he controls the rights to all her hit songs, and he even stole her dog. Life has been cruel to Annie, but she bustles on with her characteristic optimism infused with desperation.  We like her, but she is hard work.

This is a one-woman show, but Annie longs for connection and Bourne-Taylor interacts with the audience, and the tech guy, throughout. She asks us if she can go to our “hang” after the show, enlists an audience member to help her onstage, and calls us all her “Fannies”. (I am now the proud owner of a sticker that says “#1 Fannie”.)

We catch up with Annie after the death of her estranged adopted father, Daddy Warbucks. Naturally, she is going through some stuff and a couple of ideas are introduced early on to provide suspense.  There is a box onstage, from Daddy Warbucks, which she is understandably reluctant to open.  Annie is also looking for a new sidekick; she explains that a best friend can betray you, but a sidekick always has your back.

The set is simple, and the main accessory is a TV screen which Annie uses to deliver her scathing eulogy of Daddy Warbucks.  Annie has some strong feelings about the 1%. There are also songs: Annie plays us the video for her new pop ballad. Annie is dressed cutely, with her Mary Jane shoes and frilly white socks confirming that she has not fully moved on from her girlhood.

Bourne-Taylor plays Annie as a flawed, adorable, highly relatable character and has placed her at the centre of a sharp satire. She makes the case for compassion in a world of apathy. And she made me laugh.

Reviewer: Wendy McEwan

Reviewed: 24th August 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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