Natalie Palamides review: Get scrambling for tickets

Bruce Dessau
The hard shell: Natalie Palamides performs Laid at the Soho Theatre

It is not your typical comedy, that’s for sure.

Laid starts with Natalie Palamides squatting inside a giant foam egg. And that’s merely the hors d’oeuvres. What follows is a weirdly wonderful meditation on life, motherhood and how we try to avoid repeating patterns of behaviour.

Once the quirky Pennsylvanian has escaped from her own shell she proceeds to “lay” chicken eggs herself. But she has a dilemma: “Do I raise my egg or eat it?” Well, given that there is a hotplate onstage the answer is inevitable. She chows down while simultaneously mourning her offspring.

The same scene is then replayed, Groundhog Day-style, but there is little chance of Laid feeling repetitive as Palamides engages with different audience members, turning them into lover, neighbour, teacher. This is not a show for wallflowers but neither is the interaction cruel. It is no surprise it is co-devised and directed by Dr Brown, a pioneer of this brand of immersive adult clowning.

There is warmth and wit here that encourages the most reluctant amateur performer to pitch in. Nobody can upstage the skilful star, however, as she gets entertainingly anxious about her need to procreate and the set gets increasingly messy as shaving foam, toothpaste and eggs are scrambled and flicked around.

But what does it mean? When I saw Laid at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer, where Palamides won the lastminute.com Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Newcomer, it seemed to be about pro-choice. This time it felt more about child-rearing dilemmas. Does one protect them to the point of caging them or let them fly? Whatever it signifies tuck in and enjoy. Just don’t wear your best shirt.

Until Nov 18. More dates in Dec & Jan (020 7478 0100, sohotheatre.com)

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