Pros: Funny, unsettling and heart-warming: there’s a little bit of everything in this powerful, female-led evening of monologues.
Cons: The venue comes with a couple of inbuilt annoyances that distract from the performance.
Three short plays, all monologues, all written and performed by women. That is the concept behind Loquitur Theatre’s Fémage à Trois, which makes a quick stop at The Bunker before moving up north to Edinburgh. Last year’s incarnation was well received and so the company has created a 2017 version, featuring new playwrights and new stories.
Safe to Shoot by Polly Churchill kicks off the evening. It’s the story of Cathy, a recently divorced, middle-aged woman who has decided to throw herself back into the dating game. Objective: getting laid before Christmas. It’s a hilarious piece of writing in which Churchill wittily mocks a variety of norms and expectations that women have to contend with. Out of the three offerings of the evening, this one seemed to resonate most with the audience, perhaps because the majority of women will be able to relate to the issues it ponders. Or perhaps it was due to the amazing deadpan charm of the actor portraying Cathy, whose name I was sadly not able to find.
She had her work cut out too, in the first five minutes or so. The Bunker’s door opens straight into the auditorium, which inevitably creates a disturbance every time a latecomer enters. Another unexpected source of annoyance were the leather seats on one side of the auditorium; ridiculously comfy they might be, but they also make those horrible squeaky leather sounds whenever one of the occupants has the audacity to move.
Next up is Claire Gordon-Webster’s Hysteria, in which a woman talks us through the events leading up to what is probably the biggest decision of her life. It’s a dark, troubling piece that Gordon-Webster has tried to lighten up with some equally unsettling humour. It’s not a uniformly successful strategy: up until the final moments it’s hard to put a pin in what we’re actually seeing, and the resulting uncertainty makes laughter uncomfortable. Still, you can be sure that this one is going to stick with you for some time to come.
Our final encounter is Victoria Turnbull’s The Best Worst Day of My Life, which features a new mother venting about the less-than-stellar aspects of motherhood: being pissed, puked and shat on, and your once tidy fanny now looking like a half-eaten hamburger, among other things. It’s a lively and, despite the ranting, ultimately heart warming piece to round off this varied and engaging evening with. Who would have thought you’d be able to fit so much theatre into an hour?
Authors: Polly Churchill, Claire Gordon-Webster and Victoria Turnbull
Director: Lou-Lou Mason
Producer: Loquitur Theatre
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run in London. It can next be seen at the Edinburgh Festival, 2-27 August 2017.