Call Me Vicky
Reviewed – 21st February 2019
“this is a piece that deals with themes that have enduring relevance”
Call Me Vicky is sister duo Nicola and Stacey Bland’s debut play, set in the 1980s and following Vicky as she transitions from male to female. As well as being the brains behind the script, based entirely on a true story, the sisters perform in the show. We may now live in an arguably more understanding society compared to the 1980s, but this is a piece that deals with themes that have enduring relevance.
Much of the play is set in The Golden Girl drag club and as the audience enters the performance space, they are stamped to replicate entering a real club. The set (designed by Martha Hegarty) conforms to this well, with some audience members able to sit at tables on the edge of the stage, which are scattered with drinks glasses and leaflets. The intimate size of the performance space, as well as neon signs, adds to the club-like feel.
Family and friendship is at the heart of the play. Vicky (Matt Greenwood) and Mum, Sylvie (Wendi Peters), clearly share a close bond, with Sylvie’s concern for Vicky as she goes off out to the club with best friend Debbie (Nicola Bland) clearly displayed. The relationship between Vicky and Debbie is lovely to watch. They share banter, but also great care for one another, which is demonstrated particularly well during the play’s final scene.
Other characters include club waitress Gabby (Stacey Bland), club host Fat Pearl (Ben Welch) and Vicky’s love interest Sid (Adam Young). Stacey Bland’s Gabby is a likeable character and is easy to sympathise with in her struggles with drug addiction and motherhood. Ben Welch is entertaining as Fat Pearl, providing much of the play’s comedy. He has another minor role as an undercover policeman towards the end of the play, where he is really able to show his versatility in a hard-hitting scene with Matt Greenwood’s Vicky. Adam Young surprises as Sid. His punk-style costume suggests something quite different from the sympathetic, gentle character he goes on the play.
From an audience perspective, the play is best viewed facing straight on, with those of us sitting at the sides sometimes missing actors’ facial expressions and parts of their lines, due to them being blocked by their fellow actors. This was a minor annoyance and something to be considered, most notably in the more moving scenes of the play.
Directed by Victoria Gimby, Call Me Vicky is indeed a frank and revealing play. We gain a deeply personal insight into the life of somebody who wants to become the person they know themselves to truly be. This is made even more poignant through the knowledge the play is based on a true story. Although there are a few issues in terms of the set-up of the audience, this is an important piece of theatre, celebrating diversity and highlighting what it can take to stay true to ourselves.
Reviewed by Emily K Neal
Photography by Fabio Santos
Call Me Vicky
Pleasance Theatre until 9th March
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Charing Cross Theatre
Reviewed – 8th October 2018
“A likeness to Hamilton comes to mind for the opening number, It’s A Myth, with its element of a sung/spoken narrative”
The relationship between mother and daughter can be quite a complicated one. Even more tricky to navigate when you are both immortal Gods. In new pop/rock musical Mythic by Marcus Stevens (book/lyrics) and Oran Eldor (music/orchestrations), this is just the case. A wittily-written, modern twist on thousand year old Greek myths, turns the Gods into rock stars, Hollywood royalty, It-girls and power-mad politicians – the type of celebrities that we are consumed by in the 21st-century. Mythic is a fun-filled, energetically infectious show that gives old tales a fresh retelling.
Demeter, Goddess of the Earth and harvest, has spent the last thousand years exiled from Olympus, where the other Gods hang out, due to having such boring, inadequate powers. Now, living mainly among mortals and her harvest nymphs, she has come to appreciate her life away from the party-going, drama-filled, celebrity culture of the Gods. Her daughter Persephone, however, doesn’t see it that way. She feels suffocated by boredom, living the life of a recluse. Spending her time reading magazines about the other Gods, she daydreams how the other half lives. She wants to find her own path. One day Persephone’s had enough and decides to gatecrash Zeus’ party on Mount Olympus. After bumping into party girl Aphrodite, she finds her way into the heart of the celebrations. It doesn’t take long before she has caught the eye of the bad boy of Gods, Hades, a misunderstood soul, who inadvertently traps her in the Underworld. Mythic turns into a tale of finding yourself, the endurance of a mother’s love, and inner courage that speaks to both ancient and modern times.
Georgie Westall as Persephone is certainly one to watch for the future, showing real personality yet truthfulness within her delivery. Much can be said the same for Daniella Bowen playing her mother Demeter, whose comic timing, particularly in the song What Mother’s Have to Do, comes across natural and unforced. Strong performances are executed from the whole cast. Even the ensemble are given individual moments to shine and stand out, which is rare.
A simple yet effective use of set and costumes, designed by Lee Newby, offers an amalgamation of ancient influences with modern-day edginess that helps to define the shows theme of reinvention.
The songs that feature definitely help to drive the story forward rather than bringing it to a halt. They aren’t the most memorable tunes in the world, but nevertheless, there most certainly isn’t any that seem weak, and it enables the cast to show off their belting chops. Stevens’ book and lyrics are laden with chuckle worthy material, even if lyrics at times are simplistic and one-dimensional. A likeness to Hamilton comes to mind for the opening number, It’s A Myth, with its element of a sung/spoken narrative, regaling the history of the Greek Gods.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining new musical that has the potential to move onto bigger venues and reach larger audiences.
Reviewed by Phoebe Cole
Photography by Marc Brenner
Charing Cross Theatre until 24th November
Previously reviewed at this venue: