Heather and Harry is a three-women, mini-musical parodic extravaganza – an all singing, all dancing duo and equally entertaining musicians. The short show had me laughing and giggling for the whole duration, from the minute Claire Parry (musician) makes her dramatically awkward entrance. It is light-hearted and silly, a real pick-me-up in the midst of dark winter nights and ‘serious’ theatre.
The show opens and closes with an A Capella rendition of Nat King Cole’s ‘L-O-V-E’. Chloe Young, playing Heather, and Grace Church, doubling as Harry and Zeus, conspicuously creep onstage in glittering red gowns and white bob wigs, looking like costumed love hearts. Blending a combination of dance, mime, song, rap and storytelling, they tell the love story of Heather and Harry.
The opening setting is in the clouds. Up there, Heather is married to Zeus, but is sent to Earth by her godly husband, for being too curious about humans. Thrust into a glum and bustling London, Harry comes to Heather’s rescue and they fall in love. Choosing to be touched by Harry would mean Heather has to forfeit her immortality. The question of love, ultimately, is one of lust and sexual desire or of commitment.
As they say, Stumble Trip Theatre presents an “extremely silly unpicking” of human love. The story is told through refrains about touching on the tube and “very, very bad, very, very sad” London; parody dance interpretations of being caught up in a storm, dancing on clouds and falling from heaven; and ridiculously over-dramatic acting.
There were many favourite moments, but one of my highlights was Zeus, framed as a Gangster-rapper, rhyming about Heather having left the “shag-pad” and the “Big D”. Made all the more funny by the fact that the slender and feminine framed Grace thrusts her crotch and raps in a forged deep voice.
I also love the part when Harry takes Heather around London, to show her the happy sights. Their journey is represented through mime and music, as they ride bikes, row the Thames and take out a pedalo. Despite its silliness, it is a well-choreographed scene.
Parry, the musician, is just as much a part of the comedy act. She switches between singing, guitar, box drum and making sound effects, with as much slapdash humour and hyperbolised facial expression as Heather and Harry. When the storm hits London, Parry twizzles around on her box drum making wind noises, although, it is hard to draw your attention away to appreciate her performance.
Arguably, Stumble Trip Theatre are making the most of easy humour – sexual euphemisms and parodic. It is not the kind of show you go to appreciate fine artistry. Nonetheless, it is a well-structured and witty piece. Their conscious play on the fact that they are a makeshift, small-budget production makes the comedy more successful. The storyline is whimsical, but with some solid classical and contemporary allusions.
I would question the labelling of the show as “physical theatre”; I thought of it more as a parody of musical theatre. But overall, Heather and Harry is a very funny production, perfect for some light-hearted and easy entertainment.
Photo: Caro Photography