On the face of it Tuesday at Tesco’s at Assembly with Simon Callow should be a theatre-goers dream. Callow is one of the UK’s biggest theatrical names, the Assembly Hall a powerhouse venue at the Fringe, and the text is a translation of France’s huge hit La Mardi a Monoprix – it all adds up, on paper, to be an instant hit.
However, something is lost in translation. Transvestite Pauline’s story as she navigates through life caring for her father is poignant. We see her struggle as her father refuses to come to terms with her change from his son, Paul. She tries to regain composure and dignity in the lack of social acceptance as she takes her elderly father shopping without fail every Tuesday to Tesco’s.
The story feels stilted. The ever-present piano player, tuning the piano as Callow performs feels awkward, as does the occasional dance Callow engages in with a pained expression on his face. Callow fights valiantly through the text in an uphill struggle, creating an empathy with the audience at times, but this is lost all too quickly in the often unrelaxed direction. There are truly some touching moments as Callow tells Pauline’s tale, a sense of pain for the difficulties this woman faces in the strive to be herself – pain inflicted not only by the people who don’t know her, but in her father’s struggle to accept.