Exactly Like You is a deeply personal piece about the power of role models, including the ones that you have never met, to get you through the dark times. Performer and writer Lotte Rice has teamed up with director Kirsty Patrick Ward to tell the story of a girl who loses her grandmother. It is the ghost of Nina Simone, an icon whom Abbie and her grandmother both love, who drags Abbie out of her loneliness and grief. Rice’s story is a poignant look at how music can become your best companion, and at what one single song can mean for different people.
The performance is made up of an interesting amalgamation of styles. According to Rice, what initially started off as a poem later evolved into a much more ambitious piece of storytelling. It is now made up of poetry, song, and even bits of theatre. The mixture is well-arranged, with Rice seamlessly moving between poetry and singing. Lyrics by Nina Simone punctuate the piece and perfectly complement the action onstage. The play begins to feel partly like a celebration of Nina Simone’s songwriting and how universal her words are to people in pain.
This one-woman show is helped along by Rice’s keen ability to create recognisable personas and switch quickly between them. Her eccentric Irish grandmother wins the audience over right from the beginning, and adds great comic value when Rice performs conversations between her and her neighbours.
Rice’s storytelling is so strong partly due to her great use of the space given to her. She does not just tell the story through her voice but actually immerses herself in each scene. We see Abbie crawl on the floor when she describes her horrendous hangover, and an office chair is reappropriated as her grandmother’s settee that we imagine the pair sink into. Rice never seems to stop moving, making her story great fun to experience but also enhancing the more harrowing moments when she does at last stand still.
The writing itself is not necessarily groundbreaking, but its rhyming scheme flows well and Rice’s choice of words adds to the bubbly and energetic character she has created. The piece works best because of the combination of disciplines she has chosen, and how well they go together.