FringeReview UK 2016
A highly entertaining and inspiring night of new writing by local female writers.
Marking the upcoming 60th anniversary of 12 Angry Men and headed by Sara Clifford, 12 Angry women have come together to write about what makes them angry. A rehearsed reading at Brighton’s Dome studio was completely packed full of an excited audience, who were predominantly female and not at all angry but very happy to be there. The We Bop Choir sang us into the auditorium, bringing joy to our hearts as we squashed into our seats. The occasion was anticipated and joyous, displaying a real need and interest in Brighton for New writing for the stage.
Despite this being a script in hand performance, presented by four actors on two and a half days rehearsal, we felt treated to a full theatrical experience .This was also a signed performance. The still warm script pages and the reminder that we were here to witness the work of writers added to the buzz of the evening.
Beginning with one actress rocking out and competing with the other young actress girating and twerking in competition- the tone of cheekiness and playfulness was set.
In a work in progress setting it was, in my opinion, the comedy that could stand out on it’s own with more ease and with less need for context. Joanna Neary’s bombastic start to the show, presenting her own work on the boredom of Valentine’s gifts, and her scream out loud funny, non power point power point presentation on mindfulness through the ages were stand alone pieces. It was a real insight into the comedy of trying not to get angry which was also made so true to life by Sarah Naomi Lee’s Your Call is Important to Us. We are taken step by step through the wall tearing excrutiation of dealing with the robotic bright voice of a recorded operating system which never gives you the option you want, never waits for you to choose the right option and then cuts you off or leaves you on call waiting. The tight, perfectly true to life script had us all laughing with recognition.
For me, the crescendo of comedy reached it’s peak in the non verbal , It’s Not my Piss by Suhail EL Bushra. Two women armed with cleaning spray and clothes clean in time to Carmina Burana and as the chorus explodes 2 men run out, openly holding water bottles at their crotches and piss all over the floor. This was the kind of sketch one might talk about staging and seeing it on stage had everyone roaring with delight, especially as the women, squatting over them have the last word!
Importantly, there were the ‘marmite’ sketches that some loved and some mere mortals, like myself- didn’t get! The rhythmic deconstructed text of Rowena Easton’s Illuminations went straight over my head but in the interval I heard others saying it was their favourite piece, it was good to see genuine experimentation at work here without safety nets.
Despite the short length of these excerpts it was the details which made some of these pieces memorable. Sara Clifford’s Cream Cakes monologue of an elderly woman performed with touching authenticity by Jean Trend started with a Sainsbury’s strong bag being placed next to her. “ You have to bring your own bag now or they charge you”. Charting changing times over her life from the discovery of spaghetti to squid in it’s own ink at the Deli counter and ending with the ‘pop pop popping of the old gas fire.’ These beautiful poetic details touch us in a place of recognition and draw us into the heart of the writer’s world. Catherine by Choe Moss was a truly sophisticated piece of writing, which never actually mentions the child abuse at it’s core. Brightly and brilliantly performed by Roxy Dunn, her innocence and curiosity skips across the darkest of terrains with the music of her Irish voice. Her muddled mind which equates seeing CATS with going to London for an abortion, and all the while the unmentionable is never mentioned as it slowly dawns on us what Uncle John has done to this bright young girl and we feel the rage that is never mentioned on stage.
It seems the writing where the rage was contained, whether through comedy or tragedy worked most successfully, allowing us, the audience to feel rather than flinch.
I really hope these works can be developed and add to our culture and support of the arts in Brighton.
It was great to see a full house at Brighton’s Dome Studio for a rehearsed reading. On each chair was paper asking each audience member what makes us angry. I’m angry there isn’t more new work and theatre in Brighton when clearly there is such a hunger for it!