Simon Callow in Tuesday at Tesco

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Emmanuel Darley (writer), Matthew Hurt, Sarah Vermonde (translation), Simon Stokes (director)
Simon Callow, Conor Mitchell
Running time

The original French production of Emmanuel Darley’s one man play entitled “ Le Mardi a Monoprix” was a box office hit in Paris in 2009. Now translated into English, this is the British premiere.
The vast thrust stage of the Assembly Hall is encircled by a giant ring surrounded by a scattering of small black meteorite rocks, and in the centre, a glass panel is decorated with glittering stars beneath a tree of bare branches. Emerging into this dimly lit, surreal space, a female figure with long blonde hair slowly appears, with a sense of insecurity in her tentative. mincing steps.  
“Everybody stares at me on Tuesday” she addresses the audience, in a sharp accusative tone. “Stares at me out of the corner of their eye as if discreet, but not at all actually.”
But we do stare and observe intently.  This is Simon Callow dressed in a tight T shirt, short skirt , wig and high heels, in the role of a buxom, middle aged, transgender woman.   
Pauline, formerly Paul, visits her widowed father on Tuesdays to take care of his housework and accompany him to Tesco for his weekly shopping. He is gruff and ungrateful -  “Where did you learn to hoover?” ;  She is a loving, caring daughter - “I do what I have to do.”  He has lost a son, she has lost a father. 
Pauline is indeed a tragi-comic character – this big bear of a woman proudly faces the embarrassment of stares by strangers, but privately reveals the hurt and pain of her sad, isolated world. Incidental live piano music occasionally shifts the rhythm and pace of the narrative, with moments of gentle humour as she illustrates her prancing march down the supermarket aisles or scenes of inner rage.  
This drama in miniature packs a few punches. But at its heart this is an intimate, poignant confession, like a soulful letter from Pauline to her father.    
Renowned for his theatrical style of acting specialising in effusive, colourful characters of Shakespeare, Dickens and Wilde, Callow’s distinctive forte is simple, compassionate story telling. This 75 minute monologue is a magnificent masterclass in the art of characterisation, voice, accent, gesture, subtle nuances of language, facial expression and heartfelt emotion.
Show times
2pm daily until 29 August (not 15 or 22).