Review: Buttercup, The Wardrobe Theatre

19 06 2012

The scope of the Leveson Inquiry at the Royal Courts of Justice in London has nothing on Buttercup at the Wardrobe Theatre above a pub in Bristol. Reality shows and and cookery programmes are a regular focus, but there is also discussion of last year’s riots, brushing of teeth, and even press ethics so as not to let Lord Justice Leveson have all the fun.

Dressed in a floral pinnie accessorised with hiking boots, our host for the evening is a Lancastrian cow called Buttercup, the eponymous heroine of the tale and the latest alter-ego of Bristol performer and writer Tom Wainwright, whose previous one-man show Muscle studied male gym etiquette,

Wainwright becomes his creation with a swoosh of his tail and a stomp of his feet, as Buttercup tells us the story of her miserable life, interspersed with joy, such as accidentally kissing Jamie Oliver on the lips and being taken on a romantic walk by Arg from The Only Way is Essex.

There are some hilarious moments, so much so that Wainwright himself barely controls his laughter. Wainwright is a bundle of energy throughout in a very physical performance, embodying his main character as well as doing enough funny voices to put Rory Bremner to shame.

The improvised elements are also a joy, such as when an audience member in the front row applies lipstick on him before the show officially starts, and when he answers questions while still on stage during a brief ‘interval’.

But there is also darkness, as Buttercup tells us of a stillbirth and later what she does with the baby. This and other anecdotes from her life are sad bordering on deeply disturbing, but thankfully she is just a cow – or is she? – so all is okay.

In Buttercup, Wainwright looks at our obsession with celebrity culture through a whole new lens. If the Leveson Inquiry has been compelling viewing, Buttercup should be compulsory for anyone who has ever turned on the television.

Buttercup is at the Wardrobe Theatre until June 23. Click here for more information.


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