You Having Olaf?, VAULT Festival

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by guest critic Amy Toledano

A stage dressed with cardboard cut outs of Donald Trump, three members of One Direction and a children’s play house are just some of the elements that make up this monologue of a recovering children’s entertainer. Joseph Cullen, or put more plainly Joe, who enters the space in a complete Princess Leia outfit, introduces himself to us as exactly this, and then continues to surprise us from that moment on.

Joe is bitter, and has no problem telling us this. He recounts his first experience as a children’s party host and the way in which, as a naive straight-out-of-drama-school actor, convinces himself that working as a children’s entertainer is in fact an acting job.

Joe uses incredibly dry wit to express his anger, at times exploding into fits of rage and screaming at his cut out figures, as a way to help us understand how deeply his hatred lies (especially when it comes to anything Frozen-themed).

He uses both song and poetry to give us examples of times he has experienced children at their worst, including the retelling of one particular party where a small child witnessed him using the toilet.

While Joe’s humour is the kind that takes time to sink in, this show is a perfect observation of modern theatre that leaves you feeling almost as defeated as he does. And while Joe never apologies for the blunt nature of this show, it is easy to understand, and in many cases relate, to the resentment he has.

You Having Olaf? runs through 27 January.

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

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