Review: Ugly / Sherlock Holmes in A Scandal in Bohemia! (and other stories), Tristan Bates Theatre

This week, the Tristan Bates Theatre showcases two strong shows with all-female casts and creatives in Ugly and Sherlock Holmes in A Scandal in Bohemia! (and other stories)

“In a world that profits from self doubt, liking yourself is an act of rebellion”

Written by Perdita Stott and directed by Danäe Cambrook, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Ugly is a devised piece, such is its rambunctious energy and freeform nature. Tackling societal conceptions of beauty and the challenge they place on women who may feel they don’t, or can’t live up to that image, a company of five play thirty different women whose stories all centre on the notion of self-image.

It is inventively and intriguingly done. Cheerleader routines morph into powerful speeches, gospel songs slide into Disney fever dreams, a keep fit session sit right next to aerobic exercise of the bedroom kind. This approach can feel a little scattergun at times, but it is anchored by a deep sincerity to the words being spoken. As tale is layered upon tale, a weightiness is gathered which ultimately feels more effective than what might have been achieved through your regular narrative drive. Continue reading “Review: Ugly / Sherlock Holmes in A Scandal in Bohemia! (and other stories), Tristan Bates Theatre”

Review: Mites / Dutchman, Tristan Bates Theatre

Mites and Dutchman make for a provocative pair of plays currently running at the Tristan Bates Theatre

“What are you prepared for?”

The publicity for James Mannion’s new play Mites ricochets between psychological thriller and bleakly absurdist comedy and it is a tension that epitomises much of the whole experience. In a world of mysterious workmen, anthropomorphic cats and talking dust mites, the playwright also seeks to situate a serious discussion about mental health and domestic abuse, a combination which ultimately satisfies on neither front.

Claire Marie Hall’s Ruth is at the centre here, an unreliable narrator of sorts as we try to ascertain whether we’re in the realm of fantasy or cold hard reality. A pest controller arrives and declares he is her missing husband returned to her. Her cat isn’t so sure and tells her so. The layers of confusion work insofar as challenging assumptions about mental health and the frequent shakiness of the grip we want to show the world we have.  Continue reading “Review: Mites / Dutchman, Tristan Bates Theatre”