It's not often that you walk out of a theatre with more in your physical possession than you went in. On Thursday evening, I not only left* the Arcola studio 2 with a coconut I'd bought off Kathryn Hunter but also having pretended to be a cow and comforted a grieving man.
I wasn't the only person to be a cow but the rest was unique to me - I must have been wearing my 'pick on face'.
If the thought of interaction with actors fills you with horror then probably best not to sit on the front row for Tell Them That I Am Young And Beautiful, a new piece written by Gilles Aufray and directed by Marcello Magni at the new small studio space at the Hackney theatre.
And it is a marvellous piece. Seven short stories from around the world told back to back in 75 minutes. Some have the quality of fables, some the quality of parables, at least one is based on a true story but all seem epic in there own small way. Kathryn Hunter leads the cast which is made up of a mixture of actors with backgrounds in music, circus and street performance.
It is beautifully simple story telling and reminded me, like Ivan and the Dogs at the Soho Theatre, of story time at school when you'd sit crossed legged on the carpet completely rapt.
It's the first time I've seen Kathryn Hunter on stage and I admit she was the primary draw. That woman is a genius and this is the perfect vehicle as she gets to play so many different characters. She has the ability to physically transform in front of your eyes going from aged mother to playing a bird in the blink of an eye. So impressed was I that she's gone straight to the top of my list of actresses I'd move heaven to go and see on stage (the list is a work in progress).
Tell Them That I Am Young And Beautiful is refreshingly simple and as a result stands out from every else that is around at the moment. It's also beautiful, interesting and entertaining and I loved every minute of it.
And I have a Kathryn Hunter coconut.
I'm going to give it five stars.
* I did offer the coconut back to staff as I was leaving but they said I could keep it - wouldn't dream of stealing a prop, even something Ben Whishaw had worn.
Yep there is a connection. Kathryn Hunter played Mrs Figg in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (another to add to my HP actors I've seen on stage list) which of course starred Daniel Radcliffe who appeared with David Tennant in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and of course Mr Tennant was recently on stage in Much Ado About Nothing with Adam James who was in The Pride with Mr W