REVIEW: Womn's Revue
For a show centred around the experiences and performances of women, 2019’s Womn's Review was a lot less political than you might expect. In one of the only scenes to actually mention political campaigns at all, the core comedy had little to do with the MP's office it was set in.This was far from a weakness; whilst a biting satire about the various horrible men ruining our lives would have no doubt been funny, it would also have left its audience more or less depressed about the state of the world. “Inside the Snowglobe”, on the other hand,was an overwhelmingly positive experience, and left everyone in a cheerful mood.
That’s not to say there weren’t some incredibly sharp moments of social commentary. The line “as a male feminist”, closing off an excellent scene about the pitfalls of dating men, justly received one of the loudest laughs of the night, whilst a scene involving an off duty police officer filled me with a strong urge to yell “ACAB” (I didn't, I’m not a monster). But for me the greatest political statement of the night was watching a brilliant comedy show without any men. In a context where too many people still think women can’t be funny, or that shows about women are too “niche”,the cast and crew of Inside the Snowglobe got up on stage and confidently proved them wrong.
Most of the show was made up of standalone skits, a format which worked well – however, a standout performance by Isabella Olsson in a series of recurring adventures involving “the new Tina” showed how much the cast had the capacity to create linked scenes. However, the lack of this is certainly a wonderful tribute to the fact that all the cast members were also involved in the writing–the lack of an overarching script speaks to the directors' focus on empowering their cast.
What vision directors Sophia Morrison and Ruby Blinkhorn did bring to the piece was clearly competent and thoughtful. The show moved comfortably between roof-raising ensemble pieces and monologues, thematically diverse but never jarring. The central conceit of a snowglobe was present, but never felt contrived or restricting. Every cast member gave fantastic performances, and they should all be commended. I particularly noticed the fantastic comedic timing of Zoe Mamo. Her impeccable performance as a dinosaur performing stand up comedy at an open mike night showed true familiarity with the format, and at times she kept the audience in stitches just moving around the stage.
Going in to the performance, I was told other reviewers had been asking about “the kid in the beanie” – and it’s easy to see why! Lillian Smith’s madcap rant in pitch perfect preschooler dialect left me wondering how she could possibly be still breathing. Whilst there were plenty of brilliantly bombastic scenes, one of the great strengths of the show was its ability to cut into almost wordless tension scenes. Isabella Pinson and Jacinta Lin served up a brilliant skit with one person trying to look at another’s laptop screen, whilst Bellatrix Scott gave us a brilliantly unstable silence which reminded this reviewer of Helen Bidou from Get Krack!n.
The cast was fairly diverse and stronger for it, however, it was somewhat disappointing to see a lack of non-cis performers (I was assured that this was simply because no non-cis women auditioned). It was a true treat to see the pride on the faces of each of the performers’ faces as they took their bows.The whole cast and crew can be justly satisfied with their production, having sold out every performance for the 5th year running - no pressure for 2020!
If I need to have one small quibble, it would be with the perennial revue problem of poor sound quality – more, I suspect, a result of the Seymour centre's equipment than any other issue. Some of the larger ensemble songs struggled with clarity, as the backing track would come in louder than the un-miked performers. Despite this, the vast majority of lyrics did come across clearly.
Overall, this was an exceptional collection of exceptional skits. Each of the performers gave us multiple talented and nuanced portrayals which were a pleasure to watch. Whilst it has been the practice of Women's Revue to use a completely new cast each year, I look forward to seeing what future projects these talented women will be involved in. Five snowglobes out of five.
Directors: Ruby Blinkhorn and Sophia Morrison
Producers: Alison Cooper and Margaret Thanos
Stage Manager: Charlie Breene
Assistant Stage Manager: Rhayne Fountain
Set Designer: Emily Henderson
Assistant Set Designer: Emily Shen
Costume Designer: Julia Gregoratto
Assistant Costume Designer: Simone Wang
Props Master: Sereana Zwaan
Sound Designer: Stephanie Greenberg
Sound Operator: Lucy Ashby
Mic Operator: Sophie Meier
Stage Hand: Yasmin Breeze
Photography & Design Victoria Nelson
Choreographer: Ping-Hui Ho
Music Director: Mendy Atencio
Cast: Rose Bao, Angie Brooke, Abi Coffey, Phoebe Finlayson, Niamh Gallagher, Zoe Hinton, Jacinta Lin, Zoe Mamo, Isabella Olsson, Isabella Pinson, Katherine Porritt-Fraser, Cara Roe, Bellatrix Scott, Lillian Smith, Jacqui Stephens, Angela Tran, Kate Wilkins