Thursday, September 21

Sugar – The Old Red Lion Theatre

This one-woman show, which was performed initially online at the 2021 Edinburgh Fringe and, thereafter, live at the 2022 Fringe to critical acclaim is now being performed to London audiences at The Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington.

Written and performed by Mabel Thomas it charts the life of May, from schoolgirl, aged 6, to a young lady of 18 just entering the adult world. May is a feisty young lady with a determination to win at all costs. This is first demonstrated when in primary school determined to be champion at a rather strange game of ” Dibbits” she takes revenge on the boy who actually wins by inveigling him to take her along to share the much-vaunted prize.  Aged 10 she decides to become an entrepreneur in order to earn some money but is frustrated when the school decides that the woodchips that she is using as a raw material for her business actually belong to them and thus so should the proceeds of her enterprise.

The story takes a darker turn as she enters young adulthood and starts to exploit her sexuality again as a way of earning much needed money.  Having decided that she does not have the necessary physical assets to be a stripper she decides to try being a Sugar Babe to a number of potential Sugar Daddies and is seriously assaulted.  Her natural buoyancy and optimism shine through whether she has actually learnt from her experiences is unclear.

Mabel Thomas is extremely engaging performer. This is really an acted storytelling and Thomas uses very little in the way of props, nor does she need them. 

She talks directly to the audience engaging in direct eye contact and is immediately likeable.  She has a wicked sense of humour and intersperses her narrative with one-liners showing what May really is thinking. The 55 minutes of the performance sped by with many moments of great humour, but also some disturbing home truths about pressures on women in modern society and the way in which they can easily be manipulated. It is well worth seeing.

Reviewer: Paul Ackroyd

Reviewed: 6th September 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.