Reading the blurb ahead of time, this show promised lots of blood. So, it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise that clicking into the Zoom broadcast in advance of the 8pm start, the camera appeared to have a red filter on! Watching one of the cast continuously heaving into a bowl as they sat waiting for the real start time might have slightly put a lesser person than myself off their banana bread. (A banana bread that hadn’t come out quite as planned, I fear it may have been over mixed and failed to rise in the oven.)
Talking of the live stream, The Space must be commended. By informing those planning to watch that the stream would open 15 minutes ahead of time, it avoided any last-minute panic of trying to log in, as well as allowed those watching to savour that live theatre sound as the audience settled into their seats. And just to complete the praise for The Space, the online show programme for this and previous streamed shows has been both helpful and of a quality that many larger theatres could learn much from.
In Bad Taste, from all-female theatre company Sixteen Sixty (named for the year woman were allowed to become paid actresses) begins in, well, bad taste, as we witness the aftermath of five woman having murdered and eaten Violet’s (Rachel Ferguson) boss. An opening scene that begins with a discussion on the various ways to prepare said boss’ flesh for eating really is a wonderfully surreal opening, though maybe not for those with a weak constitution. The many one-liners peppered through the fast-paced script promise much for the writing future of Daisy Kelly, who also plays one of the women (Leonie Crawford, Kirby Merner and Chloe Pidhoreckyj making up the five). “It’s not cannibalism, it’s communism” is just one fine example, as they argue over why they have just committed such a horrendous act. The subtle humour is there too: “it’s probably a little off-message to be washing him down with Starbucks coffee”.
From the very red streaked opening, what follows is an enjoyable and silly hour. The programme and opening scenes make clear an underlying message of equality, but it’s a message that at times is lost (sometimes on purpose) amongst the cacophony of other voices, other worthy causes, other reasons to be angry at the world. Maybe it’s not until after the final scene, as the five take their applause before delivering a serious and well prepared speech on equality, that the message is at last outlined in a more concise way.
At times the slapstick is a little overdone, maybe a case of trying to include just too many comic tricks. The breaking of the fourth wall, whilst again allowing some good humour, is perhaps unnecessary when we’ve already been bombarded with visual gags, along with some rather beautifully scripted musical ones. The apology for the music following the “sound of sirens” may be an obvious joke but nonetheless it is wonderfully played out.
In Bad Taste, much like that banana bread I enjoyed pre-show, might not have been the best I’ve ever had, but it was still a joy to devour and left me wanting more. From the comic writing to the well-handled directing all the way through to some good comic turns from the five-strong cast, there is so much promise of what could come later. It just needs a little more attention in its preparation because, as my own recipe stated, over mixing is not recommended.
Written by: Daisy Kelly
Produced by: Bex Duffey for Sixteen Sixty Theatre
This review was for the show’s run at The Space. The show will have a further run at Bread and Roses Theatre between 22 and 24 November. Further information and booking via the below link.