Written and directed by Rachel Mars and nat tarrab
Pros: Two great performances, great big laughs from start to finish and an interesting, intelligent script.
Cons: Not much to report here. If you’re easily offended by jokes about the Falklands war and such, best avoid this one.
Our Verdict: A brilliant night out brimming with light-hearted fun but also featuring many poignant ideas on feminism, homophobia and other important issues. A great show!
The Ovalhouse is one of the best theatres for promoting new writing and The Lady’s Not For Walking Like an Egyptian is a perfect example of what this great venue is all about. The show begins with two women dressed in neon leotards and headbands, strutting around the foyer like Jane Fonda in her famous workout video. As we were ushered towards the auditorium, I was handed a glass of super healthy, low-fat soya milk and a political badge displaying my chosen cause. We then passed through corridors filled with pictures of fresh-faced, frizzy-haired Kylies and Whitneys towards the sound of Jennifer Rush bellowing The Power of Love.
The set was littered with pictures of Margaret Thatcher, Tootsie and many other 1980’s female characters. Rachel Mars and nat tarrab
immediately arrive on stage, asking the audience to make sure all mobiles are switched on, in case we need to verify any 80’s facts via Google. This is a show which incorporates audience participation from the outset and like many theatre goers, I am not always comfortable with interactive performances. The idea that I may be pulled on stage at any moment, especially sitting in the front row like I was, is enough to put me on edge for the duration of the evening. Luckily, there is something very reassuring and relaxing about how these ladies perform which kept me from avoiding eye contact with them.
Although this show is an exploration of the 1980’s as a whole, it feels more like a path of personal exploration and an in-depth look at what the decade meant to us as individuals rather than a political exposé or fashion critique. That’s not to say it doesn’t make full use of the grim political landscape of the 80’s or the creative fashions of the time, but there is a lovely sense of personalisation throughout the script. Stories about the tricycles that hurt our front bottoms due to prolonged circular journeys around the patio, to tales of the toys Santa forgot to deliver all resulted in knowing nods and giggles from the audience.
For me one of the most effective elements of this show is the fact that it raises important issues which I had not really thought about before. For example, the decade started off well in terms of positive gay role models such as Boy George and Freddie Mercury but then spiralled into a negative, Aids-fearing society which regularly condemned the homosexual as a disease-spreader. I was far too young to have known this at the time but considering these men were so important to me growing up, this fact really stayed with me after the show. Many of the correlations between Margaret Thatcher and feminism as we know it today were also thought-provoking and non-preachy, which added wonderful depth to the evening’s enjoyment.
The best thing about this show is undoubtedly the two performers who are completely charming and hilarious from start to finish. Rachel Mars and nat tarrab are clearly very intelligent women with a lot to say and a great way of saying it. They also work incredibly well as a team and their chemistry – both with the audience and with each other – make the jokes punchy and effective.
Even if you are too young to remember the 80’s, there is still plenty about this show which will have you giggling. A young man beside me was doubled over and tearing up with laughter at one particular segment. The moment in question was when two Margaret Thatchers, wearing snorkels, bounced onto the stage on spacehoppers, crushing a Falklands model ship in the centre of the stage. If you find this offensive, clearly this isn’t the show for you but the audience absolutely loved it, both young and old. It seemed to me that the girls were just showing us what really happened, albeit in a humourous way, rather than meaning any disrespect to the victims.
All in all, this is a great night out which had me humming Sister Sledge and Madonna classics all the way home. I look forward to seeing more dazzling brilliance from these two great performers in the future. Hurray!
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!
The Lady’s Not For Walking Like an Egyptian runs at the Ovalhouse until 16th February 2013.