New voices in theatre can often feel hard to find but Central Goes South at the southwark Playhouse illustrates the variety of creative work that is ahead. The first piece Couplet took rhyming couplets and made spoken word a conversation between three well defined characters. I found myself trying to figure out the rhymes before they were spoken. It finished with me wanting to know what more the writer, Ben Fensome, could do with this form as he illustrated a great ability to use it to his full advantage in both comedic and serious moments. Following this was Know You Well. The backdrop of donating blood was so immediately captivating that it felt easy to want to know the characters. Writer, Charlotte Paradise exploration of vulnerability was unique and relatable. The third piece Serve and Protect by Lynn Evertowski again had an interesting backdrop. The piece was an exploration of good and bad illustrated through a girl meeting the real life Angel and devil that had guided her through her life. The piece was comedic but I was unsure whether something was being said about autonomy or whether this was truly just a look in at the good and bad choices our protagonist had made in her life. Henry and The Betty’s followed this, a piece with particularly good acting. The characters felt real even though the situation at hand was one of a woman who changed bodies every-time she went into the kitchen. The piece was gripping as you waited for each entrance to the kitchen to move the plot and characters along. Again though I wasn’t sure if this was just an interesting form being used or whether the piece was trying to say something about infidelity. Ms Socialshite took us to half way through the first act this piece was both commentary on the internet as well as a performance of internet performed on stage. I thought this piece held a lot of potential for theatre that performs and discusses internet culture. After this we moved into a comedic piece entitled ‘do not say what is it.’ This piece was that lovely level of comedy which hurts no one and is still funny. The audience loved this piece and laughed from start to finish. The actors were incredibly taken with it and fully committed to the ridiculous course of events taking place. Following this was the most serious piece of the first act, Compassion Fatigue by Molly Sweeny which explored the limits of care giving and empathy. I really felt with this piece that we entered into the middle of it and left in the middle of it. I wanted to know what had happened to the character before and after but left not feeling that I didn’t. Finishing the first act was Grey Widow a comedic piece about being a widow, something I questioned going in but actually worked really well. The setting of a confession box quickly changing to that of a husbands funeral and then the sudden realisation that maybe the widow had more to do with their husbands death than they were letting on kept the pace and the audience engaged. All in all the piece in the first act showed great ideas that often suffered from lack of time which only tells the theatre world that what new writers need is to be given more time, something I hope we can give them.
‘Splinter’ is a snapshot of a life when an important part of their life leaves. A patchwork of scenes in a cleverly jumbled timeline which leaves doesn’t reveal the loss until the end. Throughout, the audience know she stands to lose either her boyfriend or her best friend, and it’s only as the plot unfolds that we realise who.
The Clapham fringe is well underway and Choose Your Own Adventure is a fantastic illustration of what it has to offer. Helen Suis, a narrator and friend throughout the piece, takes us through an adventure that many of us have lived before- the adventure of moving house. Helen stands centre stage with a black clipboard flicking through pages that include our many options for the adventure ahead. She is quick to point out that we will need to make choices otherwise the forty minute show will quickly become an awkward twenty minute piece of her speaking to herself. The tone of the piece made me feel like I was chatting to a good friend over a milkshake and three custard creams: items that had been provided underneath each audience members chair.
As a current London renter I found myself laughing along at the sheer misery of the situation. High ceilings are traded for a cement box in the back of someone’s garden. Zoopla is filled with illusions of a better life only to enter a windowless building with a cockerel as a neighbour. Just like real life London renting our situation as adventures went from bad to worse when we found out that the cockerel next door crowed all through the day.
Despite the naturally uneven and grim climate of the London rent market the show was one filled with joy and laughter. Not only was Helen funny but she brought out any comedy that came from the audience members. Audience participation was mandatory without being filled with that uneasy level of pressure that makes you wish you’d sat at the back, instead we were a team battling through the terrain together dodging high council tax and lynx perfumed estate agents.. Helen would point out our audiences whimsical London fantasies of high ceilings and balconies bigger enough to put a plant in without making us feel silly. She laughed along with us and we with her as she shared London renting stories of her own.
The show was a fun forty minutes of silly comedy that occasional touched on the current socio ecumenic climate. It reminded me that you have to laugh at the state of things in order to not cry but that doesn’t mean that the jokes you make can’t leave you in hysterics. All in all it was defiantly the funniest discussion I’ve ever had with a group of strangers about the London rent market.
Two boxes. One washing line. 8 paper bras. Charmian enters. Dishes out some real bras, and some real, belly laughter comedy. Reflecting on her recent experiences of travelling to New Zealand, Charmian makes well connected jokes, that all connect to the theme – bras. Now anyone who’s ever worn a bra can understand the certain level of stress involved in buying a new one. The fit, the style, the purpose – Charmian covered it all with brutal honesty and a relatable tone; poking fun at her upbringing and where she is in her life now. This may be one of the most personal shows I have seen in a while, as it unashamedly broke the fourth wall and became almost a conversation with the audience. It was wonderfully structured; understanding what it was going to say and when it was going to say it. An experienced comedienne, Charmian brought her own style of self reflective comedy to the stage at the Bread and Roses, in a one woman spectacular which was a simple pleasure to watch.