Off West End Review

Villain – Soho Theatre


Villain – the bad guy. Evil being. Antagonist.

But what happens if you find yourself labelled as such, across social media, the press and you’re just a twenty-something social-worker, trying to make a difference. It’s a frightening realisation that you were just doing your job, and suddenly you find yourself shrouded in scandal and heightened press attention.

Writer and director Martin Murphy explores the backlash when Rachel, a social worker, is involved in a child protection incident and finds herself at the centre of a heated inquiry. It’s a story that feels very familiar, you only have to think of current news reports of Baby P or more recently Ellie Butler. The public demand accountability and retribution, all stirred up by the blood baying media.

Here Murphy offers a different perspective. He builds a personal backstory to Rachel, showing us that whilst it’s easy to judge her based on tabloid headlines or twitter rants, she is a very real person making her way through life. Helping every little way she can.

It’s a one woman show and the brilliant Maddie Rice offers little vignettes of Rachel’s life, from going to university, kissing someone’s boyfriend at the Christmas party and spending time with her parents. She’s very funny and hugely relatable, the kind of girl you’d love a prosecco with and end up two bottles down with a bag of chips on the way home.

It’s a smart piece by Murphy, tightly produced and engaging. Rachel begins at the end of the ordeal and fragments the story, intertwining how she came into the job and the aftermath she has experienced. It’s a refreshing piece that is kept lively with observant humour and buckets of wit.

This is fringe theatre at its best and I am sure will be a rave success in Edinburgh this summer.

Villain runs until 28th August at Underbelly Cowgate, Edinburgh

Huge thanks to TheatreBlogs for the invitation.


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