Something’s not right with Georgie. She’s turning 40 and she’s lost her heart, hope and other h’s along the way. She can’t even pronounce the letter h anymore. Written by Kate Driver Jones and Sarah Davey-Hull, Aphrodite in Flippers is the new, bright and surreal show from Bold & Saucy Theatre Company; it’s a light-hearted tale of a woman coming to terms with reaching middle age.
Organised Sarah (Sarah Goddard) and happy-go-lucky Vicki (Vicki Manderson) are the friends and loyal champions of Georgie (Georgina Roberts). On realising the latter has lost her way, they pluck a seed of doubt from Georgie’s ear before setting out on a series of comical, metaphorical-turned-literal missions to help Georgie and others get to the point, build their bridges, stand their ground and define their boundaries. This tricksy journey requires the trio to navigate a multitude of obstacles including paranoia point without losing their minds to suspicion, and dodge cake holes – similar to sink holes but with the ground beneath sporting a fete bake sale.
Jones’s minimalistic set design and wacky costumes fit the surreal nature of the piece. A sharp-angled, asymmetric silver door on wheels, a matching window, stools and a kitchen table are dotted around the studio space. Georgie looks every bit the mess she feels internally with her old-fashioned smock thrown over a sparkly dress, which in turn is piled on top of her every day clothes. One visually striking moment in which all three occupy centre stage, Sarah twirls a pink umbrella as Georgie fans her flippers and Vicki – who is a talented physical actor – writhes in slow motion on the floor.
Aphrodite in Flippers has a feminist backbone to it. All characters seen and mentioned, bar the evil Bluebeard, are female. In one particularly uplifting scene, the absence of women in history books is scorned before the past achievements of successful women are read aloud to help Georgie regain her hope. The show reaches its climax in the penultimate scene as Georgie, guarded by two deadpan clowns, is instructed by a voice on the other end of a phone to slap on clown-like makeup, bake a cake and recite the Kings of England whilst being informed, amongst other things, that she’s too old at 40 to have children. Like Alice in the courtroom scene of Alice in Wonderland, Georgie says to hell with the madness this society dictates we adhere to, and in doing so she accepts herself and finds her happiness.
All three performers are entertaining and full of gusto, however they could benefit from being mic’d up to block out sounds of traffic pouring in from outside.
Nevertheless, with a final all-singing all-dancing rendition of ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, Georgie – and hopefully those approaching middle age with a similar torrent of emotions in the audience – is ready to be 40 and fabulous.
Aphrodite in Flippers is playing Brighton Fringe until 15 May 2016. For more information and tickets, see the Brighton Fringe website.
Image: Bold & Saucy Theatre Company