Lucie Pohl admits there’s plenty of pun titles she could have chosen for her show. She’s opted for Apohlcalypse Now after a clusterfuck of a year. The Jewish New Yorker has lost an apartment, been stuck in a crappy diner job, and, as we learn in a rush at the end, lots of other things have gone wrong for her family, but in essence, this is first and foremost a break-up story. The promo poster sets it up to be a lot weirder than it is.
It’s slick, very slick. Her characters, especially the ones she attributes to her German father (who laughs like the Count off Sesame Street) and Romanian mother, are polished. There’s not a word missed as she rattles through her story, and she is beat perfect with the occasional lighting trickery. She’ll ditch the mic to give the piece a different dynamic too. It all has an American work ethic behind it that contrasts with a certain breed of British performers who try to wing it with personality alone. In fact, it feels a touch over-rehearsed. It rarely feels like she’s responding to the room, and makes us feel, you know, slightly less special.
Hers is a self-inflicted relationship disaster, while on a film set in Turkey, so it’s hard to go overboard with the sympathy. It’s even harder to get with the world she paints of hotel “pillow menus” and encounters with Stephen Baldwin. She confesses to her own discomfort at being in this world, but she seldom pokes fun at it in itself, only at the characters that inhabit it, particularly poor old Stephen. Besides, the schlocky film she’s in soon fades into the background when her attentions are distracted by a burly Turkish crew member…
One holiday fling does not an apocalypse make, so there’s an attempt at the end to roll in some wider family issues and trouble with her apartment. Things don’t end up as poignant as they could do, mainly because we’ve never fully bought in to the “trauma” of being in the mediterranean sun, seduced by a Turk. But the strength of Pohl’s performance and skill with characters is impressive and her talent shines through, even if the story doesn’t scream out as one dying to be told.