Playing as part of ChewFest
Lion and Unicorn Theatre in Kentish Town, North London, pride themselves on exploring some of the strangest, most outrageous topics and flavours, with a big emphasis on dynamic new writing. Magic Number certainly fulfils this ambition. The production consists of three short plays by young writers, combined into 90 minutes that focus on bringing life to sexuality and queer stories from brave, honest perspectives.
The first play is 13 Children by Borderline Confrontational. An energising and engaging actor breaks the fourth wall and uncomfortably starts off by asking the audience how many people they’ve slept with. We are immediately engaged and our eyes widen. She then takes us on a journey through her life, exploring her sexuality with questions like ‘what is sex?’ ‘Is procreation the purpose of sex?’ ‘How many of you have utilised the morning after pill?’ The conversation raises important questions, and made me think of how we define ourselves by our sexuality. However, the high energy slowly deflated and really lost ammunition towards the end. I was ultimately left thinking it had become a bit of a self-indulgent tale with minimal effect.
The second play, Plant Gays by Muddy Puddles, is a series of monologues about teens coming to terms with their sexuality with the help of nature. The monologues were conducted with and about plants, turning into a speech about the decline of the characters’ mental health due to oppressed sexuality. Although there was an engaging, important running theme of how nature benefits our mental health, the subject matter and language was too monotonous and obvious, which led the audience to disinterest.
Finally we had Thin Air by White Noise Theatre, which explores the relationship between two people who have been abused. Both actors display naturalistic, high energy performances, but again untidy language means we never quite get a grasp of the important themes.
Magic Number explores some meaty material, and it was inspiring to see young people bravely getting their hands on this. I could see where each play was trying to go, but at the moment, more work is needed. The language was sloppy and it all sadly came to a bit of a grinding halt.
Plays devised by: Borderline Confrontational, Muddy Puddles and White Noise Theatre
ChewFest is produced by Chewboy Productions
Editor note: This is a slightly amended version to the original posted review. We feel it should also be made clear that the night was for emerging young theatre makers and the plays were considered to be extracts rather than full plays. However, that being said, when an audience is paying for an event, we can only judge it on what is presented at the time. We hope this review is a fair reflection on that and that it is constrauctive criticism that will be taken on by the creatives behind the three shows.
Magig Number played for one night only as part of ChewFest. The festival continues until 28 May. Further information can be found here.