I needed some time to find Etcetera Theatre when I came into the Camden area – I did not expect it to be on the second floor of a pub. Another big surprise was when I realised how small the audience is. There is an intimate atmosphere to this place which gives spectators an opportunity to feel much better connected with the actors than in many of the bigger, mainstream theatres.
Grrrlz examines revolution in the 1960s; equal rights for women, better and less ‘conservative’ education for them and for everyone else. By comparing Kathy (Kara Young) and Marge (Lara Sharipova) – two visions of ‘perfect’ life – the show also demonstrates the conflict between the old world and a new one; conservative people and more liberal ones; capitalist society and communist. And also how we know these subjects are very important not only for those times but also for the current one, when unfortunately nothing is perfect about how our society functions.
This production, made by Chris Gill in co-operation with Katie Blackwell and Poly Smart, is absolutely something worth seeing. The actors are fantastic and the partnership between the younger and more experienced cast contributes to this positive feeling. Two acts full of music with powerful lyrics make the whole play addictive. To be honest, the beginning was not all that interesting for me, but after the few first scenes I just could not wait to see the finale of this play. As well as wonderful lyrics, the singing is equally impressive. All the vocals are full of power and energy: we may have occasionally heard an off note but this was not at all a problem. The most memorable pieces were ‘Listen Up, Man’ and ‘Together’, both of which actually have two refrains in the show, creating an interesting interplay to connect the two acts.
The scenography was impressively simple but functional. Projections on the back of the stage were a good option instead of more physical background changes for every scene, which would prove very difficult in this small space. The props were selected such that they could perform several functions depending on the setting. Generally the design was well thought out.
I am really glad that I managed to see this performance despite having a hard time remembering how to spell the title (I wrote Grrrlz wrongly too many times to count). It is a really funny, upbeat musical which I would highly recommend, and would see again in a heartbeat.
Musical Direction by: Chris Gill
Directed by: Katie Blackwell
Grrrlz has completed its current run at Etcetera Theatre. Check the show’s website for future dates, via the below link.