With a successful tour around Bradford last year, Kat Rose-Martin’s Pick n Mix has now made its way to the Pleasance Theatre in Islington.
The play follows the lives of Kim (Natalie Davies), Olivia (Charlotte Ellis) and Alisha (Sonia Wrightson) as they navigate the consequences of being involved with the same boy, Jordan (Morgan Scriven). With a good-looking pizza delivery boy on the scene, Kash (Mustafa Chaudhry), things get complicated and chaotic very quickly.
The performance space is quite small but designer Madi Omatseone has found a clever way to tackle this. The set is made up of versatile crates that transform into a variety of things such as a bed, shop counter, school desk and even toilets. Brightly coloured, they also add to the visual appeal of the production.
There are certainly some funny moments in the play, such as the scene where Olivia and Alisha are tasked with putting a condom on their hands, like a glove, during a sex-ed class. The audience couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the situation, especially with the hilarious commentary: “the 354 Johnnyarm from Vagland will shortly be arriving in Wombtown, please brace for impact.” Additionally, Kash and Kim’s conversation at the bus stop is laugh-out-loud funny. with quick wit and teenage banter.
However, some more serious and sombre moments in the play are not convincing. As the characters feel two-dimensional, it makes it difficult to fully invest in their emotions. The exception is Olivia who is able to convey loneliness and sorrow in a believable way. Ellis’ performance, particularly in the final scene, is impressive.
One aspect of the play that feels underdeveloped is the lack of serious consequences for Jordan, who gets three teenagers pregnant within a week. The play has the potential to be a platform for highlighting the inequality of women being made solely responsible for contraception, whilst there is no equivalent pill for men, yet it fails to do so.
Additionally, the statutory rape of 15-year-old Olivia is briefly mentioned in the play but not properly addressed. This is unsettling to watch and leaves a lingering feeling of unease. Again, it could have been an opportunity to discuss the importance of men taking responsibility for their actions. There are also moments in the play where anti-abortion sentiment is expressed in a way that seemed to make the audience uncomfortable.
With honest and candid conversations about periods, porn and first boyfriends, Pick N Mix excels with its comedic timing, even if it falls short in terms of emotional depth and exploring thought-provoking themes. The young women in the play do however ultimately exhibit love and compassion towards one another, which is satisfying to see.
Written by: Kat Rose-Martin
Directed by: Alex Chisholm
Designed by: Madi Omatseone
Pick N Mix plays at the Pleasance Theatre until 4th February. Further information and bookings can be found here.