“I’m a pretty normal sort of person”
In a theatre world reveling in David Suchet’s Lady Bracknell and Craig Revel Horwood’s Miss Hannigan, one has to be grateful for companies like The Thelmas and their unflagging resolve to readdress this balance. Their particular focus lies more in encouraging new writing and none more so than in Ladylogue, their evening of six one-woman shorts, all written by emerging female playwrights, playing at the Tristan Bates Theatre as part of the Camden Fringe.
And a vivid and vibrant collection they make too in Madelaine Moore’s production here. From Maria Yarjah’s self-performed Family (Mis)fortunes tracing a young woman’s trials on social media once her parents have discovered Facebook to the poetic swirl of Sarah Milton’s The Night Tella, expertly delivered by Joana Nastari’s edgy narrator, the mood shifts considerably throughout the evening but never failing to place women’s stories at their heart.
Though written in isolation, it is interesting and instructive to see the commonalities – Moore’s programme note picks up on the chill wind of the Conservatives affecting women disproportionately as we see bedroom tax, disability assessments and child benefits all coming under the microscope. There’s also the role of the media though, both social and mainstream, promoting a bullying ethos, unreasonable standards, an ingrained misogyny that has to be constantly battled.
The pressures on Kim Burnett’s interviewer in Ghost by Lucy Foster stem from family tragedy too but there’s no doubting the disapproving societal gaze that undermines her confidence even in her late 20s (some brilliant direction here really pointing this up) and Asha Kingsley equally makes a powerful case for stronger support networks for women in times of crisis as Mina Maisuria’s My Sons Are Doctors swerves unexpectedly.
Sarah Cowan balances comedy and tragedy well in Serena Haywood’s closing Zero but it was Madeline Gould’s Ladykiller that won the night for me, making me laugh out loud on several occasions with its deftly dark humour and some deliciously deadpan delivery from Hannah McClean, riffing on and actually exploiting what society might expect from someone it sees as a victim -thought-provoking stuff.