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EdFest Reviews, Friday

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This was a dubious "showcase" piece from a dubious school called "acting coach scotland". Mostly, it was forgettable group scenes with the vaguely linking theme of "women's suffrage", but one performer shone in a monologue about a trip to a "mother and toddler group" which touched on the co-option of working class women by activists. (Although, I wonder what actual working class feminists would make of the patronising "Forrest Gump" elements..)

Assassins

Sondheim I'd never seen before! There's only a finite number of times in one's life that one gets to see new Sondheim, and I'm glad that I spent one of those times with this company. This show is structured around everyone who ever assassinated a US president, with a few failed assassinations thrown in for good measure. An incredibly powerful and focused ensemble, I was particularly impressed by the fantasist Giteau and the witheringly intense Wilkes Booth. Whether it was the performances or the script, I don't know, but I was left with the nagging feeling that this show doesn't quite find women's inner lives as interesting or compelling as men's inner lives - but then again, so much of the show's theme of American-Dream-freedom-and-power-through-assassination is about masculinities, perhaps that's understandable.

Adventures in Menstruating

I don't know when "sex education cabaret" became it's own genre (maybe we get to take a little of the credit for that?) but I'm so glad it did. I'm also impressed by the effortlessness with which Chella Quint took us through an hour of menstruation-related material without once using "women" as shorthand for "people who menstruate". This was gentle, kind, and charming, and also we got to play Twister.

Company

Oh, poor Lincoln Company. They'd obviously choreographed their production for one of C's many small, minimalist, black-box theatres... the drafty church hall they ended up in was terrible for them, acoustically, dramatically, and just terrible for my back (I'd appreciate some warning if I'm going to be sitting on a rickety pew for 90 minutes!).

So while I appreciated their queered version of Company - a Sondheim musical I've never quite "got" before, always finding it borderline-misogynist - I worry that much of the audience didn't. Certainly, towards the end of the month, a lot of the cast looked exhausted - or at least were struggling to fill the cavernous space they'd been forced to perform in. It's hard for me to comment on the show musically, because the acoustics were so muddy that even if the performers had been excellent, I'm not sure I'd have noticed.

Things that WORKED:

  • Bobby becoming Bobbi changes the tone of the endless question, "why aren't you married yet?".

  • They recast one of Bobbi's partners as a man, for some gloriously effortless bi representation.

  • Half of Bobbi's friends being queer totally normalised queerness and left no space for tedious "what if Bobby is Secretly Gay And Therefore Incapable of Loving Connections" interpretations

  • I actually cried in "Being Alive" - normally I'm left a little cold, even Neil Patrick Harris couldn't quite make me feel it, but from Bobbi, I actually felt like I understood it.


I can't help but feel that, if this and Assassins had swapped venues, both would have done much better.

Originally posted at http://sebastienne.dreamwidth.org/83820.html. comment count unavailablecomments.

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