Centred on a fascination with the work and life of Hans Christian Andersen (and not "Anderson" as the Pleasance have opted to spell it on her tickets), this show is all about love. From Reid’s entrance to the soundtrack from The Little Mermaid, her stories of failed relationships and false expectations challenge the perception of romance in popular—namely Disney—tales. Andersen’s optimism with regards to the love life of his characters is a recurring theme.
But the often-explored topic of overly enthusiastic preconceptions should not put you off; Reid is a talented performer. She has a gift for storytelling, and while this is one of the first previews of this year’s show, her delivery is near flawless. She weaves an engaging narrative, talking about her long list of "first loves" and their various shortcomings, dipping in and out of her interpretations of Andersen’s life, and taking a leaf out of her hero's book by probing the "relationships" of somewhat bizarre objects – namely a tree and a collar.
This is not laugh-a-minute theatrical comedy. When Rose’s crescendos do come, they tend to be a story of letdowns from relationships past. But she is nonetheless an endearing character who draws in her audience with her tales.
There are a couple of welcome surprises. Reid is also a fantastic singer, and the two occasions when this talent is brought to the fore are a highlight. Hans Christian Andersen may have built a reputation as hideously boring, but this show is certainly not.