Reviewed – 30th May 2018
“This play has a dark undercurrent and tackles serious topics, but it does not take itself too seriously”
‘Conquest’, the debut play from new company PearShaped Theatre, is an honest and comedic tale about sexual consent, power dynamics and modern-day feminism. The play centres on the characters Jo and Alice who, after a chance meeting at a pharmacy, develop a relationship that sees them go from sharing accounts of unpleasant sexual experiences, to exacting revenge on sexually destructive men through some rather unusual cupcakes.
The new company, formed by Jess Daniels, Katie Caden and Rachel Smith (Director, Writer and Producer respectively) is focused on creating female-led theatre, with a twist on traditional forms of storytelling. Indeed, the play does not shy away from being a response to the current climate of abuse and gender inequality, and this play has a strong female voice. This voice, however, is not overly-polemic. Instead it is sharp, witty, at times self-deprecating and shamelessly honest. Katie Caden’s script is a gift to the actors, who are able to articulate the play’s significant themes through natural dialogue that reveals so much about the characters, who are played brilliantly by Colette Eaton and Lucy Walker-Evans.
There is a clear connection and chemistry between the two performers, who also display some excellent multi-rolling skills, especially in the frantic feminist meeting room scenes. Walker-Evans in particular brings a nervous energy that fits perfectly with her character’s uncertainty at how best to channel her frustrations. The play lives in uncertainty, be it when the girls become uncertain as to whether their protests are effective, or when the protagonists act in ways that make the audience uncertain whether they are victims, or a destructive force. All of these exciting parts are expertly woven together by Jess Daniels, whose direction has formed a show that is clean and crisp, but also charged with life and excitement for the audience.
This play has been marketed as ‘Fight Club meets Calendar Girls’, and while it may not have the intensity of the David Fincher film, this is a fun and apt description. This play has a dark undercurrent and tackles serious topics, but it does not take itself too seriously. If you’re interested in new, female-led theatre then this is a great show to see. If you are not, it’s still definitely worth a watch. Get yourself down to the Bunker’s underground theatre for this fun and fearless female story.
Reviewed by Edward Martin
Photography by Ali Wright
The Bunker until 9th June