Review: 51 Shades Of Maggie has just one Silva lining

17 Sep 2013 @ 11.00 am
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Talented… Adele Silva in 51 Shades Of Maggie
Talented… Adele Silva in 51 Shades Of Maggie

Review: 51 Shades Of Maggie
Venue: York Barbican, September 16

As a member of the opposite sex to the target audience of EL James’ 50 Shades Of Grey, I was a little apprehensive when it came to reviewing a spoof stage show version.

I haven’t read it, have no interest in doing so, in fact everything I know of it really comes from a comedian friend of mine doing a “bit” featuring Frank Spencer reading it aloud.

Emmerdale star Adele Silva plays Maggie Muff (I know, not a great start!), a young woman from the East End of London, drinking, smoking and sleeping around, when she meets a man working at the Dole office, who she calls “Mr Big”. What follows is their 50 Shades-inspired relationship.

Adele Silva is a more talented actress than I gave her credit for. This is a one-woman show and she conveyed several characters through vocal and physical mannerisms really well – possibly the only reason I stayed till the end (other than writing this review).

The show itself is all over the place, written by a woman, Leesa Harker, who doesn’t seem to know anything about women. Full of mystifying behaviours, Mr Big seems to work at the dole office, yet somehow has a cut glass accent and the money to lavish on Maggie. Yet he also uses the office resources to quasi-stalk unemployed women.

More disturbing even is the way in which his desires for Maggie take a horrendous turn, yet Maggie seems to shrug off being assaulted, not some kinky sex but actual physical abuse, with no consequences.

The plays major strength is in Silva. Her physical performance raises a few chuckles, but she is ill-served by a crude, crass script which I was uncomfortable hearing.

I’m not afraid of a little bad language, especially when it is warranted, but this was a barrage of foul-mouthed opinions masquerading as feminism.

Maybe it would have been funnier if I had read 50 Shades, but somehow I doubt it. For me, it is a seriously misjudged play, rescued from being truly awful by Adele Silva’s committed and gutsy performance.

Someone should write her some better material…