Bread & Roses Theatre
Reviewed – 12th October 2019
“a fun concept but it will take a lot of changes for Bowie to win big with this lacklustre gameshow”
Smashing It! is an interactive comedy gameshow about the trials and tribulations of living under a capitalist patriarchy. Written and hosted by Helen Sulis Bowie, Smashing It! aims to expose and explore the inherent problems with a capitalist patriarchal system all while playing catchy theme music. The show is highly interactive with the audience shouting out answers and joining in on stage.
There are three games in total. The first is ‘Say My Name’ (with the famous song by Destiny’s Child acting as the theme music) in which the audience must identify the famous man based on descriptions of them in relation to their wives. The second game is ‘I think you’ll find…’ – in tribute to obnoxious men inserting their opinion when it isn’t desired – where two audience members are challenged with speaking for one minute about a random topic without apologising or playing down their knowledge.
The final game is (very) loosely based on the 1990s television gameshow Supermarket Sweep. Bowie’s version has an audience member answer riddles about several items on stage that represent the pressures and horrors of the capitalist patriarchal system from a pack of Teatox tea to help people lose weight to a cheap jumper made in a Bangladeshi sweatshop.
Despite this line-up of games, a lack of polish means that none of these activities really feel like segments on a gameshow but rather like someone trying to entertain their family in the living room on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The bland stage did not help this. Some more decoration would have been appreciated here such as a sparkly sign with ‘Smashing It! The capitalist patriarchy gameshow’ on the back wall.
There were some notable fun extras. Handmade paper booklets with a word search and a board for a game of ‘Capitalist Patriarchy Bingo!’ are available in the lobby and, with a declaration that we can all help change the world, Bowie hands out chocolates from a box of Heroes. It is nice that there are also small prizes for participants, but they are neither particularly funny nor relevant to the show which just makes them a bit naff.
Bowie is a decent host and is good at encouraging the audience to participate. She did however not always seem too confident on stage and audience members at times outshone her. Bowie is at her strongest at the performance’s end where she removes her neon pink wig and succinctly breaks down many horrible aspects of capitalist patriarchy.
The show is in fact as a whole strongest when it lingers on the dark and harsh realities of such a system. The murder of Reeva Steenkamp by her boyfriend Paralympian Oscar Pistorious, the murder of Anne Shortall at the hands of Roy Webster after she asked him to fund an abortion, and the mere necessity of a rape alarm are some important topics mentioned. There is also some thoughtful commentary about companies encouraging punters to ‘treat themselves’ by buying new products for World Mental Health Day. More moments like this will go a long way in improving the production.
Smashing It! is a fun concept but it will take a lot of changes for Bowie to win big with this lacklustre gameshow.
Reviewed by Flora Doble
Bread & Roses Theatre as part of Clapham Fringe
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