Little Wimmin ☆☆☆
The Pleasance, London
Figs in Wigs are the darlings of the alt-cabaret scene and everyone has turned out in force to support the London premiere of their latest show. John Sizzle (boss of The Glory) is here, as is Glyn Fussell (boss of Sink The Pink) and also club mega star A Man To Pet (who is of course boss of everything else darling!).
The Figs website states that “Little Wimmin will examine how we think about the past, what’s wrong with the present, and what we’re going to do about the future – if there even is one”. The original novel of 1868 followed the lives of the four March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy and details their passage from childhood to womanhood as they fearlessly battle societal norms of the time, addressing three major themes: “domesticity, work, and true love…”
So, is the Figs in Wigs version a scathing satire or a fond reimagining? There is a moment when Meg March says “You must have gloves…. gloves are more important than anything else…if you don’t, I should be so mortified!”. The Figs lampoon the social mores of the day and the appearance of the outsized glove in the second half takes the absurdity to the next level. A memorable scene is where they exclaim “Lets beat the rug” and it turns out to be far more than a little light housework. Through the frenzied lynching of the humble floor covering we see the frustrations (sexual and otherwise) of the sisters and womankind in general – plus with all the knowing arched eyebrows the phrase takes on a sapphic euphemism too.
The opening scene worked so well, where five women appear to levitate above the stage, as transcendental music plays, dry ice swirls and the cast attempt to explain away the vast holes in the narrative “so the audience should not trip over them on their way out!”. It’s funny, its classic Figs in Wigs, with its warmth, wordplay and obsessions with minutiae – think Acorn Antiques mixed with The League of Gentlemen. It’s a meditation on their own intriguing brand of bizarre.
The rest of the show accelerates in its challenging conceptual proposition as we are then transported to a luridly orange mid nineteenth century parlour, and then a whirlwind of the oversize hand, monstrous margaritas, a horse’s head and other out-there manifestations of plot points from the novel and their truly unique imaginations.
Queerguru has seen Fig in Wigs short form cabaret performances a few times (most notably as part of The Glory’s weekend takeover of the River Stage at the National Theatre) and they bring a refreshing kookiness to any mixed bill show.
Their dance skills are legendary but woefully underexploited in tonight’s over long outing. What was supposed to be a one and a half hours long stretches inexplicably to a two-and-a-half-hours – a bit of judicious editing would have helped and looking at the (laudably all female) list of cast and crew in the programme it has to be said that they may have rejected the “Icy Hand of the Patriarchy” but would have benefited from the firm hand of a director on this particular gig.
Until Nov 9th
REVIEW : JONNY WARD
Jonny Ward, Queerguru Contributing EDITOR is a drama graduate but has worked backstage for many years at venues such as The ROYAL ALBERT Hall, The 02, Southbank Centre and is currently at The NATIONAL THEATRE. He lives in Hoxton, London and is delighted to check out the latest, the hottest and the downright dodgy in queer culture for Queerguru. (P.S. He is currently single) @JonnyWard360