Luke Pajak

Happy Birthday Without You

Reviewer's Rating

This one-woman show examines the problematic relationship between mother and daughter in an energetic, moving and witty way.

Sonia Jalaly is astoundingly talented and clearly well trained. She leaps with balletic yet gangly grace across the Roundabout’s compact stage, singing with a Broadway standard-vibrato and, on top of this, constantly keeps the audience wrapped around her finger despite the tricky in-the-round set up.

This show is chaotic and silly but still maintains theatrical substance. The production manages to strike the perfect balance between self-mockery and heart-wrenching truthfulness. Lines of poetry from Sylvia Plath and Bob Dylan are dotted throughout the script, used for both parody and poignancy. Jalaly’s alter-ego, Violet Fox, often slips into her own performance poetry, delivering it with a sardonic overtone, but it never grates due to its genuine depth and believability.

It’s a quick and frenzied hour, but in the best way possible. Balloons pop out of gold boxes, handcuffs are ripped from bum-bags and bedazzled cd players take on a mind of their own. Everything is choreographed to perfection, a testament to the evidently wonderful working relationship between actor and director (Ruby Thompson).

For a highly entertaining and often moving hour that addresses the difficult relationship between a mother and her daughter, do go and join in with Violet’s Birthday Party. You’re all invited.