A pair of new Camden Fringe reviews from Jack the Lass Theatre’s kiss her and Chuck Salmon’s Pool Noodles, both at the Camden People’s Theatre
“Who wants to hear about some muthafucking lesbians?”
Elizabeth Auld’s kiss her is the debut show from Jack the Lass Theatre and is the kind of bold theatremaking that makes you grateful that fringe theatre festivals have persisted through the pandemic. Seeking no small feat as to rewrite history and reset the ways in gay women have been portrayed (and still are portrayed), the show’s episodic structure presents its uncompromising evidence about how utterly pervasive long-held attitudes have been and eloquently suggests how they might change.
From lampooning the stereotypes of lesbian fiction to listening to an author be told what the effect of coming out would do to her book sales, from straight-washing historical figures to focus-grouping a lesbian car advert into being, the show’s scope is necessarily huge. It also takes the breath away, as in informing us that female homosexuality was only first discussed in Parliament in 1921, compared to the sixteenth century when they apparently had something to say about gay men.
A tightly-knit and empathetic ensemble approach, expertly marshalled by director Florrie McNish and aided by Rachel Elizabeth Coleman’s movement direction, points to the inclusiveness of the intent here, the importance of carrying a wider audience with it to encourage its widest impact. But it also reminds us of the invaluable significance of a supportive community around you. To this point, the show’s most affecting scene actually comes as a wordless one at Gateways club, capturing the ecstasy of dancing without abandon, the joy of being free in a safe queer space.
As with many of the best comedy show experiences, there’s just no way to describe Chuck Salmon’s show Pool Noodles that does it adequate justice. Suffice to say, that it will change the way you see crazy golf, possibly ruining it forever for you – what more could you ask for from a show?! Cambridge Footlights alumni Noah Geelan, Will Bicknell-Found and Alex Franklin capture an irrepressible energy throughout and their daftness is as infectious as poolside verrucas.
Insofar as it matters, Pool Noodles follows the trials of Kenny Shallows as he enrols in lifeguarding school but finds himself up against all manner of obstacles when it comes to the nigh-on impossible feat of winning “the big race”. The trio share an easy, riffing chemistry which makes their interactions delightful, as they inhabit any number of outlandish characters with their goofy charm. A warning note though, the front row really isn’t for the shy and retiring among you.