Get our free email newsletter with just one click

I Want You to Admire Me/But You Shouldn’t review at Camden People’s Theatre, London

Dirty Rascals' I Want You to Admire Me/But You Shouldn’t at Camden People’s Theatre, London. Photo: Jeremy Wong Dirty Rascals' I Want You to Admire Me/But You Shouldn’t at Camden People’s Theatre, London. Photo: Jeremy Wong

“Who is more admirable?” ask Pavlos Christodoulou, “David Attenborough or the Dalai Lama?” It’s the first in a series of absurd questions put to contestants and audience in I Want You to Admire Me/But You Shouldn’t, an amusing satire about praise and shame by Dirty Rascals.

The devising theatre company use the set-up of the classic TV game show, with live studio audience, to delve into our desire to be deemed worthy in someone else’s eyes, along with the flip-side to this form of self-valuation.

It’s easy to see appreciate the parallels with contemporary online culture – in particular Twitter – and the way one ill-judged comment can precipitate the rapid crash and burn of a reputation. Musician David Denyer reiterates this analogy by performing in an oversized, padded mask of the ‘crying with laughter’ emoji.

Christodoulou is very funny as the over-zealous and slightly sarcastic host. He is joined by Howard (Howard Horner), the call centre worker with a sideline in ornithology, Hannah (Hannah Donelon) the English grad turned primary school teacher, and Emily (Emily Prudence), an earnest American who somehow forgot to vote in the last US election.

As successive rounds play out, the atmosphere becomes increasingly frenzied and the format unravels. The basic joke of the piece is on the verge on becoming tired when it ends with an unexpectedly precise capturing of how hideous public humiliation can be.

For a piece of theatre still at an early stage of development, its slick delivery and conciseness of idea is more than highly admirable.

If Britney Could Get Through 2007 We Can Get Through This review at Camden People’s Theatre, London

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Gameshow comedy that cleverly dissects public shaming in the internet age