Author Karen McLachlan evolved the character of Betty at the Edinburgh Fringe and now this repressed Catholic with a devotion to the spin cycle has arrived in London under the aegis of director Kathy Burke.
Betty lives a drab life of little pleasure until one day she discovers sexual ecstasy courtesy of her washing machine. Guilty about her newfound addiction, she seeks spiritual absolution from her local priest and is advised to embark on a pilgrimage to Iona to express her contrition. On this journey from hell Betty encounters an absurdly zealous penitent, a womanising minister and a group of pilgrims whose lack of collective charisma would reflect Chaucer's motley band of travellers in a thoroughly positive light.
Geraldine McNulty, perhaps best known here from TV's The Vicar of Dibley and My Hero, brings Betty to vibrant, rollicking life on Alice Power's effectively minimalistic set and makes her metamorphosis from shy recluse to reawakened woman a funny, bittersweet one, although the material often seems too slight to sustain a whole show. It's the sort of play that really works best as a fifteen minute sketch where its comic potential could develop without feeling overstretched. Nevertheless, most of the audience seemed to find the material consistently entertaining, more than likely courtesy of McNulty's enjoyably warm and inventive performance.
The show not been well received by the popular press....
NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "For anyone in search of smutty, juvenile drivel on stage, Betty ....should be just the ticket." He goes on to say, "The monologues are about as glaringly post-modern as Lionel Blair." PAUL TAYLOR for THE INDEPENDENT says, "For all its attempts at varying the mood, Kathy Burke's production can't disguise the over-stretched, one-joke nature of the piece." SUSANNAH CLAP for THE OBSERVER says, "Betty could have been brilliant as a dirty five-minute sketch, but it's direly over-extended at 75 minutes." CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, " McNulty's satire on religious repression is gleeful, malicious, outrageous and hugely entertaining." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "Competently directed by Kathy Burke and pretty well performed by Geraldine McNulty." MCHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, " What is depressing about McLachlan's extended skit is its mixture of smutty innuendo and adolescent iconoclasm." DOMINIC MAXWELL for TIME OUT says, "Rather glib satire". PETER HEPPLE for THE STAGE says, "There is no doubt that McLachlan can write and Geraldine McNulty is a fine interpreter of her work."
External links to full reviews from newspapers