Tag Archives: Martha Godfrey

Grey

Grey
★★

Ovalhouse

Grey

Grey

Ovalhouse

Reviewed – 2nd July 2019

★★

 

“Structurally, the show was rather like an album, comprised of different tracks, but, aside from the closing piece, they all sounded pretty much the same”

 

Grey is an intensely personal show. Written by Koko Brown, who is also one of the two performers, it is an autobiographical account of her own struggles with depression. It is honest, and it is real, and Koko herself radiates warmth, strength, fragility and creativity. To sit in the audience with a notebook and pen felt intrusive, as if I was being asked to critique her pain. So, to be clear: it is the artistic shaping of that pain that is being written about here. Nothing can take away from the truth and validity of Koko Brown’s lived experience.

The show has a simple format. Koko shares the stage with another performer, Sapphire Joy, who interprets – through a mixture of sign language and signifying gesture – what she is saying. Or at least, sometimes that’s what she does. Sapphire busts out of her interpreter role on occasion, to directly challenge or confront Koko’s narrative, though still remaining in the realm of sign and gesture. Sapphire also signs the music. Koko mixes live beats throughout, using her loop station, and frequently sings over the top, and one of the real pleasures of this piece was watching Sapphire Joy physically embody those sounds. Fantastic work, and another instance in which Shelley Maxwell’s superb movement direction shines.

The integration of a signing performer into the work felt exciting, and provided some welcome moments of theatre, especially when the two women interacted, although there were also a few sections of unspoken dialogue which were unclear to the audience, and which, judging by the animation of the performers, it seemed a shame to be missing out on. There was also a terrific section towards the end of the show in which the poetry rose up out of the narrative and Koko then opened her voice into a great howl of pain, triumph and pure being. Unfortunately, these moments were little and late.

Making a perfomance piece about depression is always going to be problematic, as it is a condition of repetitive stasis, which is inherently undramatic; this conundrum wasn’t resolved here, and the show lacked pace and tonal variety. The enforced gaiety which is clearly exhausting for the sufferer, was equally exhausting for the audience, and went on for far too long. Also, the theatrical elements in the staging – giant hanging origami birds, for example – seemed completely arbitrary. Structurally, the show was rather like an album, comprised of different tracks, but, aside from the closing piece, they all sounded pretty much the same.

 

Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Mariana Feijó

 

Ovalhouse

Grey

Ovalhouse until 13th July

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Medea Electronica | ★★★ | January 2018
Random Selfies | ★★★ | March 2018
This Restless State | ★★★ | March 2018
Standard:Elite | ★★★★★ | May 2018
Austerity & Me | ★★★★ | June 2018
The Croydon Avengers | ★★★ | June 2018
Undersong | ★★★★★ | June 2018
A Pocketful of Bread | ★★★ | September 2018
Rejoicing At Her Wondrous Vulva … | ★★★★★ | May 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Fuck You Pay Me

Fuck You Pay Me
★★★★

The Bunker

Fuck You Pay Me

Fuck You Pay Me

The Bunker

Press Night – 9th May 2019

★★★★

 

“funny and empowering without attempting to gloss over the hazards”

 

In true striptease style this lucidly written play observing the sex worker lifestyle must wait an age while the audience is warmed up. Stacey Clare reads extracts from her forthcoming book countering the stigma and stereotypes of stripping, setting a feminist compass and authentic tone for the evening, before Electric Girl performs an erotic dance to establish the more familiar face and form of the subject. With thunder seemingly stolen, Joana Nastari then takes the stage to narrate the typical evening at a dance club for One, a stripper, as she navigates the hapless regulars and predictable first-timers. Behind her, The Other, played by Charlotte Bickley operates the decks, playing music and occasionally chiming in as DJ Craig as well as voicing One’s phone, which slowly dies as her worried mother tries to make contact.

The tale is funny and empowering without attempting to gloss over the hazards of drugs and drink, the insecure employment and short-term lifestyle. We share the camaraderie of her co-workers as they respect one another’s ‘hustle’, but also the building concern represented by the mother’s missed calls. As a writer, Joana Nastari is perceptive and entertaining. As an actor, she establishes a rapport with her audience while being able to withdraw into scenes where more depth is needed.

Director Bethany Pitts, together with movement director Yami Lofvenberg, uses podia, pools of light, (lighting design, Martha Godfrey) fake fur and tinsel (designer, Naomi Kuyck-Cohen) to create the necessary stages, corners, cupboards and dressing rooms, enhanced by Charlotte Bickley’s rich sound design.

Producer Ellen Spence steers her female production team determinedly away from any danger of being too serious, while ensuring that the stereotype created by those who demean sex workers is thoroughly busted. In place of analysis, the team prefers to endorse the well-run strip club as a safe way for fun-loving adults to exploit each other’s needs.

The show might be more self-confident without the preamble (different performers will open each performance) but if you know how to extract whoops and cheers from an audience the temptation to is probably irresistible. However, in doing so, some of the idea is lost. It’s the intersection between the emotional support sex-workers provide for each other with the moral and campaigning support provided by modern feminism that makes this a fresh and fascinating production, one that needs no dressing up.

 

Reviewed by Dominic Gettins

Photography by Maurizio Martorana

 


Fuck You Pay Me

The Bunker until 19th May

The line up of special guests at each performance will be announced each day on FYPM’s social media

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Semites | ★★★ | October 2018
Chutney | ★★★ | November 2018
The Interpretation of Dreams | ★★★ | November 2018
Sam, The Good Person | ★★★ | January 2019
Welcome To The UK | ★★ | January 2019
Boots | ★★★★ | February 2019
Box Clever | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Killymuck | ★★★★ | March 2019
My White Best Friend | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Funeral Flowers | ★★★½ | April 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com