Some years ago, a friend offered to accompany me to the theatre, with just one condition; “none of that weird shit”. We eventually agreed upon The Angry Brigade at Bush Theatre, a fantastic play about 1980s domestic terrorism. To me, perfectly normal viewing. I’m reminded of this now as I wonder just what she would have made of Gash Theatre Makes a ThirstTrap©, because trust me, this is some really weird shit indeed.
Where to even begin? There’s no story arc to Gash Theatre Makes a ThirstTrap©. Instead a series of stand-alone pieces played out in 280A, an address where it appears one hell of a house party is going on. As each scene plays out and the camera takes us seamlessly through them, it feels like we are a voyeur to this party, albeit at times a very confused voyeur. There is though a common thread throughout; sexuality, femininity, and how that fits into the modern world.
The variation between scenes is what makes this watchable, provided you are not too easily offended – saying that, the argument that freely available music videos are more explicit is one that could be easily made. Very rarely does a moment outstay its welcome. From Nathalie Ellis-Einhorn’s lip synced film scenes, through to Maddie Flint’s provocative drag performances, all via rooftop scenes curated by the third member of the team, Clodagh Chapman, there is plenty to sink your teeth into, in whatever way you wish to consume this madness. On one level it is simply utterly compelling viewing, a joy for film buffs to play spot the reference (which I must confess were often beyond me, I wouldn’t know my James Cagney from Humphrey Bogart), on another level, it is thought provoking and often utterly eye boggling.
Ellis-Einhorn’s lip-synced scenes of old classic films are a personal highlight. They offer stark contrast; the film dialogue jars uneasily against the sight of the provocatively dressed performer, words taking on a very different feel in this new environment, demonstrating how far we have come from a time when the male lead could casually call a woman a dame and give a backhanded slap to calm down the usually hysterical woman. Some might say a more innocent time of film, others would say a time when male chauvinism was unhealthily prevalent. Either way, you are left wondering quite what to make of it all and plenty to discuss afterwards.
Nearly every scene offers such contrast of the fine line between titillation and empowerment. This is played out perhaps most powerfully in the bathroom, where they attempt to take even more sexually explicit selfies whilst sound bites talk of the objectification of woman. Again, contrast and questioning is everywhere. The way this then transitions effortlessly into a performance of the Spice Girls Wannabe is just faultless and joyous.
Whilst some moments may go over your head, at no time is it so self-absorbed that to not understand is to not enjoy. If you can’t always fully fathom out the meaning you can still enjoy the well-crafted visual.
Gash Theatre Makes a ThirstTrap© is intriguing, utterly compelling viewing, perfect for the theatre lover who enjoys a challenge. I doubt though I would recommend it to my friend, I have a feeling she would simply find it some seriously weird shit indeed.
Written and performed by: Maddie Flint, Nathalie Ellis-Einhorn & Clodagh Chapman
Filmed by: Andrew Perry
This show is available on Wednesday 25 November and Wednesday 2 December, at 8pm. Tickets are free but donations are welcome.