Pondling follows the story of ‘Madeline’, a young girl who tells us stories of love, dresses, cycling around Paris In her beautiful new shoes and… beheading chickens. This narrative monologue is written and performed by Genevieve Hulme-Beaman. The piece has won several awards including Best Actress at the Dublin Fringe and a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Fringe, and it is clearly very deserving of these achievements.
We get a deep insight into the inner thoughts of a quirky and fairly disturbed five year old. The strongest narrative we follow is Madeline talking about her true love Jonno Boyle O’Connor an “older man” and her encounters with him which are slowly revealed to us throughout the show. Madeline has an alter ego “Madeleine Humbel Buttercup”, a gloriously glamourous French lady. However “Madeline” actually has a very lonely existence on a farm with her grandfather and brother. This is an intense one woman show, held together by the completely committed and present Hulme-Beaman . As it opens the small child we are presented with is so strange that it is slightly off putting and difficult to engage with. However these feelings are soon left behind and you become fascinated by the girl darting around the stage talking about her hatred of cows and her true love. There are moments that are so sick and twisted you almost think you should look away, but instead find yourself howling with laughter and even more engaged with what’s going on. This is partly down to the on point acting of Hulme-Beaman but also to the text. The writing and pacing of the show is unpredictable keeping the audience on their toes and hooked for the whole hour long show, with brilliant moments of comedy.
This really is an unusual production that reminds you of some of your own odd behaviours as a child but makes you feel normal and sane compared to what is going on on stage. 5/5
Review written by Lucy Bishop.
Pondling was on at the Southbank Centre from Friday 24th-Saturday 25th October. For more information on future productions at the Southbank Centre, visit here…