A Q&A with Alice Lamb from The Unicorn

The Unicorn will soon open in Studio 2 at Arcola Theatre, playing from 7 – 24 June. We sat down with Alice Lamb whose performance in the one-woman show has been critically acclaimed.

Can you start by giving us an overview of The Unicorn? What story does it tell? 

The Unicorn is about a young woman, who after being fired from work and breaking up with her boyfriend, finds herself entering the world of sex parties. Anonymous sex soon starts to take over her life, and she is forced to confront what she is using sex to block out. 

Sex addiction is often dismissed as a non-condition. How does The Unicorn approach this?

Sex starts off as an exciting escape for Andrea, but it ends up completely consuming her life, destroying her relationships, her finances and her ability to look after herself. It becomes a critical way to numb herself, to block out any hurt, which to me sounds very much like any other addiction. The way it is explored in The Unicorn is about figuring out what makes Andrea’s relationship to sex addictive and working out how to have a healthy relationship to sex, not cut it out from your life completely as you would with a drug or alcohol addiction for example. 

What’s the reaction to ‘The Unicorn’ been like so far from people who have seen the play? 

People have said that afterwards they don’t know whether to see a therapist or go to a sex party after watching the play. It makes people think about their own sexual identity. It’s a play that makes you hold your breath throughout. I’ve been overwhelmed with peoples positive reactions and how moved people have been.

What’s it like performing the whole show by yourself? How does rehearsing a one-person show compare to rehearsing with a cast?

It’s completely yours, which is nice, you are in control. It’s like playing a piece of music on the piano, you know the rhythm of it so well you can play around with it. The director Tom Brennan is so supportive, and I’ve known him so long that me just rehearsing the show to him never felt awkward which I am very grateful for. It’s a bit lonely in the dressing room pre and post-show though!

Have you had audiences come up to you after the play and share their own experiences?

I have and when people share their stories, I feel very honoured and I think about them when I am performing the show, because you never know who is sat there watching and thinking, I know how you feel. I feel I have a duty to do a good job every night for those reasons.

What was the most inspiring performance you have ever seen? Why?

Civilisation by Jaz Woodcock-Stewart with Morgann Runacre-Temple. I don’t know how contemporary dance to Abba and watching Dragons Den on a bed was the most accurate depiction of grief I have ever seen but it was. 

Photo of Alice Lamb by Geraint Lewis