Review: Piece of Me, Camden People’s Theatre

Britney Spears and the surveillance state make strange bedfellows in the imaginative Piece of Me at Camden People’s Theatre

“Unfortunately, the video got taped over with A Touch of Frost

The minute a show describes itself as a “co-devised, cross-arts, multi-disciplinary performance”, you know you’re not in for another piece of David Hare-inspired tedium. Claire Gaydon’s Piece of Me is absolutely a comparative shot in the arm at Camden People’s Theatre, raucous and rough around the edges, certainly entertaining and considerably ambitious, perhaps just a little too much so in the final analysis.

In some ways, the show is an act of wish-fulfilment for Gaydon’s 10 year old self, a retread through the rise and fall of her girlband Babyface Bland with besties Natalie and Chloe. Inspired by Britney (and Destiny’s Child, and All Saints), there’s a genius look at the interplay of teenage girls’ realities and dreams, ably assisted by Yasser Zadeh’s forlorn Natalie and Alex Roberts’ spirited Chloe (desperate for her own spin-off) and Gaydon astutely allows them to garner all the laughs.

With the original songs remastered by James Jacobs (aka noted Robyn remixer Jakwob), the 90s throwback vibes are ace. The shift to the other strand of Gaydon’s show is a little janky, she speaks amusingly of an ‘incident’ which she compares to the ever-worsening treatment that Britney received from the media which leads us into an exploration of how invasions of privacy through cameras have become a part of everyday life now.

Getting the band back together is fun at least and as the members of Babyface Bland put together a facial recognitions start-up and score a big government contract, the show lacks a little of the certainty that the earlier choreography swaggered with. Inserting meta-theatrical discussions as to its purpose adds to the unconventional air, very much in keeping with Gaydon’s aims if not quite making me think ‘Gimme More’ as much as the first half. Worth sampling for yourself.

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