Reviewing anything that involves your friends can be a bit like tap-dancing through a minefield. For starters, a reviewer should always try and be unbiased, and that’s sometimes easier said than done when your own mates are involved. But more than that, there’s literally nothing worse than going to see someone you know perform, and discovering that they’re actually terrible. What are you meant to say to them? “Well, you know, the acoustics in the venue were just the bee’s knees, weren’t they?”
With these thoughts swirling around my anxious mind, I awaited the appearance of LeftLion’s own Bridie Squires for a sneak-peak performance of her work-in-progress one-woman-show, Casino, which she performed as part of Nottingham Poetry Festival’s First Steps, Final Steps alongside Dan Webber’s Gender Fluid at Debbie Bryan. To my initial relief, and then delight, none of those worries were even remotely founded, as the performance was just brilliant from beginning to end.
The premise came from Squire’s own experiences working as a croupier, with the thirty-minute spoken word performance taking us on a journey through the peaks and troughs of being both sides of the roulette wheel. Addressing themes like human nature, adversity, identity and addiction, Squire’s laid-back, humorous style beguiled the audience, luring us in to a feeling of relative comfort before landing emotional sucker punches seemingly out of nowhere.
The chosen topic of gambling provided the ideal platform to explore the extremes of the human condition, and Squires’ own personal experience and finesse as both writer and performer rendered her as the perfect person to guide us on the journey. At once, she was the controlled figure of authority, observing the idiosyncratic tendencies of her punters as they gambled their lives away; the next, she was taking on those same idiosyncrasies, exposing her vulnerability from the other side of the table.
To think that this was just a ‘work-in-progress’ fills me with a sense of anticipation and excitement; anticipation in wondering how she can improve the already excellent show further, and excitement in knowing that, as such an innovative, entertaining performer, she will.
Bridie Squires performed Casino at Debbie Bryan's on Friday 26 April 2019, as part of Nottingham Poetry Festival
Nottingham Poetry Festival website