Pros: Charlotte Fox has an explosive energy.
Cons: Induced audience participation can be a put-off for some.
If ever there were twins in the wide world of one-hander fringe shows, they would definitely be the two I’ve attended in the past few days. Both Ouroboros by Charlotte Fox and Mirrors by Siobhan McMillan explore narcissism, superficiality and insecurity from a woman’s perspective. The ruthless competition, the anxiety to look good and the urgency to fit within certain canons are highlighted in a dark comedy format that entertains the audience whilst depicting poignant scenarios.
Interviewing McMillan before her West End debut, I had the opportunity to learn more about the experience of an auditioning actor, wherein the frustration of not feeling good enough and always being cast for the same cliché roles inevitably affect one’s self-esteem.
Perhaps, then, it’s not just a coincidence that Ouroboros starts with an unsuccessful audition, after which despite going to great lengths to impress, Fox is told that her face is “weird” and she should lose weight if she wants to get some work. ‘Remember, you are a product,’ her agent tells her on the phone.
I’m not normally one to comment on actors’ physical features, but this must be said: on stage Fox looks gorgeous, tall, and fit, with long blond hair and captivating blue eyes. Yet, I don’t find it hard to believe that she might have experienced this sort of rejection if she felt compelled to write and perform about it. This is a saddening thought indeed.
Determined to improve and fulfill all her agent’s inane demands, she then embarks on a journey of extreme dieting, hard-core training, fanatic veganism and motivational brainwashing that leave her a nervous wreck, definitely not feeling any better about herself. A scene recalling the cult Trainspotting sequence “Choose Life” suggests how seriously harmful this path can be.
Conforming to the “swipe, like, follow, apply filter” culture, her language is essential, often conveying the message through high-stamina physical input that combines mime with gymnastics. Colourful and supple like a slinky, she embodies a different character in each stage of her journey, effortlessly displaying the unique attributes of each one, whilst drawing from a remarkable repertoire of accents, tones and body-language.
Fox owns the stage with such a confidence and creative verve that go beyond the resonance of her themes. Unafraid to break the fourth wall, she apologises for some imperfections in her performance, asks questions to the front row and grabs my partner from his seat to help her prepare for her next audition. Her Ouroboros – named after an ancient symbol depicting a serpent eating its own tail – completes in 60 minutes a full circle of personal growth, in which we can all recognise some of our own personal conundrums.
Written, Directed and Performed By: Charlotte Fox
Producer: Russell Lucas
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run.