Pros: Great characterisation and performance, and some filthy double-entendres.
Cons: The show could do with some exploration of a few additional themes to avoid repetition.
Londoners are infamous for being cold, rude and sometimes downright nasty to each other, even at the best of times. This characteristic is only made worse when a Tube strike is on the cards, where getting around town becomes a Battle Royale-style dogfight to see who can get the last inch of standing space on the bus. The general level of misanthropy in the capital certainly went up a few notches as a result. It was therefore the perfect night for the London premiere of Pull Your Socks Up, Britain!, a Camden Fringe comedy show hosted by Lotta Quizeen, who thinks that what this country needs is for everyone to start being more pleasant, more sensible and better at basic household tasks.
Lotta Quizeen, portrayed by Katie Richardson, is the typical 1970s busy-body housewife, complete with ‘BBC accent’, towering heels and enormous Thatcher-style perm. She wants to start a sensible revolution: this country wouldn’t be in such a mess if everyone knew how to fold a fitted sheet and how to make a damn good Eton Mess. The show consists of Lotta explaining her vision and educating the audience members (there is a lot of audience participation) in the key skills a more sensible Britain needs. Her wit is sharp and acerbic and her routine is peppered with filthy double entendres, which she is of course oblivious to. Mixed in are stories about her distant husband Dickie, her beloved son Hugo and her despised daughter-in-law Susan.
Lotta Quizeen is a creation of The Thelmas, an all-female new writing company that aims to promote the work of female writers and theatre makers: stories of women, by women, for women, and, I suppose, for us men too!. In this show, they poke fun at the old-fashioned, busy-body housewives of yesteryear. The overly patriotic and naive views are used to comic effect, but with a sense that, in the end, there is something about their attitude which we could all benefit from today.
My only concern with his show is that the premise of a ‘common sense’ revolution fought with teacakes and trifles doesn’t quite carry the show all the way through to the end. Eventually, the jokes seem to either repeat themselves or come in slightly different variations of each other. Although Richardson’s personification of Quizeen is strong and humorous enough to engage the audience right until the end of the show, I felt like Pull Your Socks Up, Britain! could have done with exploring a few additional, related themes. Furthermore, although in general Richardson’s delivery is great, there are a few points where the phrasing of the lines sounds more appropriate to a written script than spoken monologue. Doubtless the delivery will become more naturally as the run progresses.
All in all, Pull Your Socks Up, Britain! is a fun and light-hearted comedy show which pokes fun at the old-fashioned view that everything can be fixed with a bit of British common sense. Although the show could do with a few extra themes being explored, it is a fun night out, as long as you don’t mind running the risk of being taught how to fold a fitted sheet in front of a room full of strangers. And after a stressful day of commuting (Tube strike or not!), a comedy show about the benefits of all getting on with each other works wonders in lowering that misanthropy level.
Author: Serena Haywood
Director: Madelaine Moore
Producer: The Thelmas
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run.