Pros: The two actresses gave it their all to keep the performance afloat.
Cons: Wafer-thin plot and uninteresting dialogue.
Heading to Theatre N16 is pretty much like climbing a dungeon to save the princess. After a short walk from Balham underground station, I entered the double doors of The Bedford pub. Crossing the main hall and through another set of doors, I found stairs leading up to what seems to be a Latin-American dance school (confirmed later by the familiar rhythm of bachata that I could hear throughout the show). Following the corridor I took another flight of narrow stairs, immersed in darkness, until I reached the second floor landing – also narrow and semi-dark – where lies the entrance to the auditorium. The signage is scarce but the staff are friendly so don’t be afraid to ask directions if you feel a bit lost (and you definitely might!).
Swifties has been described by its creatives as a play “exploring the alienating and destructive effect that poverty, celebrity fetishism and social media can have on the lives of normal people.” The story is a loose adaptation of Jean Genet’s classic The Maids, a play in which two sisters develop such a toxic devotion to their mistress they consider murdering her.
Rewritten by Tom Stenton, this version opens with two teenage girls in a hotel room. Nina (Tanya Cubric) and Yasmin (Isabella Niloufar) have won a competition to meet their idol Taylor Swift and are waiting to be summoned by the organisers for the much awaited encounter. To kill time they choose to enact some role-play, wherein Nina pretends to be Taylor Swift and Yasmin her most loyal bestie. In real life, their biggest dream is to belong to Tay’s close circle of friends and they’ve planned something vicious to make this happen. But, when they realise that their plot isn’t working, things turn nasty and what seemed like over-enthusiastic admiration soon becomes lethal obsession.
With a strong reference to suicide, blackmailing and a ‘fancy’ lifestyle, Swifties has all the potential to satisfy the morbid curiosity of the millennials. Unfortunately, the script is so poor and devoid of actual events that it might push away audience members who don’t share the same social and cultural background as the characters. The bipolarity of the two protagonists is reflected by repetitive and nonsensical dialogue, which is occasionally funny but gradually becomes quite annoying.
Luckily, Cubric and Niloufar are two talented actresses and impressively manage to deliver a reasonable performance, despite the increasingly disturbing scenes. The second star of this review goes entirely to their dedication and hard-work on stage.
Nonetheless, towards the end of the play I was entirely disengaged and I really looked forward to the end of this self-indulgent piece that I don’t feel made me any smarter nor entertained me the slightest.
Original Author: Jean Genet
Adapted by: Tom Stenton
Director: Luke Davies
Producer: Luke Davies
Booking Until: 11 March 2017
Box Office: 07969 138 899
Booking Link: https://lineupnow.com/event/swifties