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Royal Court Theatre
“WOW!” the woman next to me spontaneously exclaims at the end of Nicole Lecky’s Superhoe. It’s an apt response to the impact of her work and its performance.
Superhoe tells the story of Sasha, a wannabe singer living with her mum and step-dad in Plaistow. A fraught relationship with them propels her out into a world of cam work, sex work and Instagram fakery. “Fuck me do I want her life,” Sasha says, while looking at her own Instagram pictures.
The slow reveal of all the ways in which Sasha has been neglected, damaged and violated is deeply affecting. She’s been with idolised boyfriend Anton for 11 years — they met when she was 13 but he’s three years older than her.
Her memories of her dead father include getting out of the car to collect drugs for him. New friend Carly is in fact a pimp.
The myriad ways in which women are coerced into creating sexual personas online and how, for the vulnerable, this leaves them open to manipulation are touched on in Lecky’s superb solo performance and her Sasha brims with spiky resentment and cutting, often cruel, wit.
But always just beneath the surface is pain and a vulnerability and the moment when she personalises her new bedroom at Carly’s by putting a soft toy on the shelf while talking about all the money she’s going to make doing cam work is heartbreaking.
There’s a clever use of songs, beginning with a young woman fantasising in her childhood bedroom, but they develop into powerful tracks about claiming your life as your own. Written by The Last Skeptik and Lecky, they shift the register of the production, offering moments of commentary and humour while also confronting moments of — often male — sexual brutality.
There’s something of Arinze Kene’s Misty in the intelligent blend of music, performance and a discussion of Britain’s racial politics that’s both biting and insightful.
But Superhoe is also a unique and powerful piece of work in its own right.
Runs until February 16, box office royalcourttheatre.com
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