Daddy Issues is written and performed by Anna Krauze. Her distinct sardonic voice imbues the show with a cynical knowingness from the very opening moments. She plays Natalia, a Polish immigrant and talented artist who earns money from working on a sex line. What at first presents itself as a play about Natalia fulfilling the young girl fantasies of her older male callers, becomes something deeper and more personal. Although every time things get a little too personal, a distraction is thrown in, a structure that mirrors the way many of us share trauma. Humour is used as a tool to give Natalia more space to tell her story in her own way.
Krauze is clearly a talented storyteller with an original voice. There is a raw energy to her performance that is both compelling and distancing. We get a strong sense of Natalia’s dysfunction and cynicism, the result of exploitative and abusive relationships, including that with her own father. As a result some of the humour in the piece is sharp enough to draw blood. Natalia’s defenses are up, even as she invites us in to share her world.
Director Coral Tarran ensures the focus is very much on Krauze’s performance, while on stage the seductive backs of various canvases tease us with more to be revealed. Each moment a new pictures is shared is significant, nothing on the stage is wasted. I loved the inclusion of the different Art pieces in the show, they offer such a vibrant window into Natalia’s world.
Daddy Issues fearlessly tackles many subjects including sex work, female pleasure, abusive relationships, self-destructive attraction, xenophobia and feminism. It has many brilliant threads but doesn’t quite come together as a cohesive piece, with some moments feeling awkward and disjointed. It is a thought-provoking piece of theatre that is well worth experiencing as it stands, but it has the potential to be extraordinary once if finds it rhythm.
Daddy Issues is running at the Etcetera Theatre until Sunday 22nd August as part of the Camden Fringe Festival 2021.