Quarter Life Crisis *****
I enjoyed this show so much that I didn’t want it to end, relating to its themes of perpetual adolescence; growing up in London and returning home after university unable to afford anything, juggling a string of dead-end jobs and zero-hour contracts. It is a personal story, but the political point should not be missed. Millennials, much mocked and often dismissed, are hard-working and crave adulthood. Yet the after-effects of the recession mean we are unable to progress in the same way our parents did, with career, family, or housing. This is perhaps something of which the writer herself has personal experience. And when you throw artistic ambition into the mix, it just means that you have to work at least twice as hard. Yolanda Mercy (writer and performer) tells the story of Alicia, in the lead up to her 26th birthday. The production is slick from start to finish with both visuals and sound showing various aspects of Alicia’s life; from her Nigerian ancestry, and her largely absent father, to her emoji equations and dances at parties and raves. It is heartfelt and humorous, showing how young people’s progression can be stifled, yet how we continue to strive and thrive.
- Written and Performed by: Yolanda Mercy
- Directed by: Jade Lewis
- Original Live Music Composed by: Luay ElJamal
All KIDding Aside ****
As someone in their late-twenties, this show was perhaps more meaningful that it should be. Christel Bartelse lets us into her mind as she contemplates parenthood, through snapshots of storytelling, clever jokes, puns, and skilled movements. She opens up about her fears, which structure the piece as she weaves different threads of her story together. The references to feminist matters, such as maternity pay (for artists), having a career or job, and the biological inequality that impacts on the female heterosexual experience of starting a family, are subtly portrayed throughout. At one point, she asks the only man with children in the audience if he ever dreamt up the names of his future children when he was younger. And as social conditioning would have it, the answer was no. It is not a story that is neatly tied up, but a snippet of an ongoing internal battle between deciding whether or not to have a child, which also explores issues such the environmental impact of reproducing, the painful condition of endometriosis (and being dismissed by male doctors), and the problem with wealthy white people adopting children from less economically developed countries. Bartelse manages to create a balance between the heartfelt moments and the laugh-out-loud ones in a show that is for anyone who’s ever thought about having (or not having) children.
- Written and performed by: Christel Bartelse
- Directed by: Michelle Polak
I’m not football fan, but as this play was written by Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish, it piqued my interest. After all, I was able to enjoy Bend It Like Beckham, so why not a play about football? From the title and poster images of two women, I wondered if ‘Offside’ was a tongue-in-cheek reference to what I remember reading in girls’ magazines as a teenager – that knowing the ‘offside rule’ was a great way to impress to boys, one going so far as to explain it. The play itself follows the story of two young women competing to make the England team, inter-dispersed with stories from their respective football heroes/heroines: Emma Clarke, who was the first black woman to play football professionally in the 1800s; and Lily Parr, who was openly lesbian and played football professionally when the FA banned women from playing in 1921. Through dialogue, monologue, movement, and a poignant football chant, this play explores ideas of competition, strength, and both personal and political struggle in the context of the history of women’s role in football.
Jessica Butcher / Tanya-Loretta Dee / Daphne Kouma
Writers: Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish / Director and Originator: Caroline Bryant / Designer: Beth Oppenheim / Composer: Tom Adams / Movement Director: Diane Alison-Mitchell / Lighting Designer: Dylan Tate / Voice and Dialect Coach: Izo Fitzroy / Patchwork Maker and Costume Assistant: Atena Pou-Clavell / Video Designer: Megumi Okazaki
Other Recommended Shows
Siân Docksey’s Totally Casual and Freewheeling Mystic Comedy: Lemon Torpedo, Rosie Wilby’s The Conscious Uncoupling, Adele is Younger Than Us, That’s What She Said, Amy Annette’s What Women Want, and Naomi Sheldon’s Good Girl.
You can see Carmina’s She Grrrowls at Black Market Room 1 at 19:20-20:20 until 26thAugust.
Featured image of Offiside by: Lidia Crisafulli
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