Shoe Lady review – Royal Court

4 star review

Katherine Parkinson is mesmerising in EV Crowe’s multi-layered, and sometimes baffling, tragicomedy about a woman who loses a shoe on her way to work.

In little over an hour we follow a day in the life of estate agent Viv as she wakes in bed, tends to her young son, stresses about her lopsided curtains, and then descends into increasing levels of frustration and panic as she attempts to cope wearing only one shoe, while her exposed foot is getting bloodier by the minute.

On the surface it all seems rather absurd but Crowe seems to be making a point about the fragility of the middle class comfort zone. The story is, for the most part, told through Viv’s monologue. On the page, her words are poetic and sparse. Under Vicky Featherstone’s direction, Parkinson brings them vividly to life alongside a handful of other speaking characters that include a similarly shoe-less homeless woman Elaine (Kayla Meikle) and, yes, a talking curtain.

Aided by Matthew Herbert’s atmospheric piano score, and an energetic song and dance number, the play’s 65 minutes fly by – and not just because Parkinson is almost always in motion on a travelator.

Shoe Lady is at the Royal Court, London, until 21 March