Batting crumpets and punchy satire at their audience, fiery feminist duo Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit – aka Sh!t Theatre – bring their boot-stompingly fun show Women’s Hour to the Brighton Fringe. Originally commissioned by Camden People’s Theatre, the show has won awards and enjoyed success at various locations at festivals across the UK. And hey – thanks to certain political mandates and the media’s portrayal of women not having changed much in the last two years, gags such as the poignantly funny sketch about tampon tax are still relevant – urgent even – tonight.
“Doesn’t she look lovely?” is the refrain jarringly repeated in the same upbeat tone throughout the play, until it sounds absurd. How many times do you hear successful women reduced to this statement? Cleverly drawing our attention to the mindlessness of this comment, Sh!t Theatre first pair it visually with images of the Duchess of Cambridge, before juxtaposing it harrowingly against images of overtly sexualised women. “Doesn’t she look lovely? She’s a princess!” they repeat.
Women’s Hour gently mocks its namesake, BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, in everything down to the low drawl in which this show is announced. Mothersole and Biscuit combine witty one-liners, comical dancing, slapstick – particularly entertaining as the daintily-branded ‘Kinder Egg for girls’ is smashed open and crumpled to the ground – and current political issues, such as the fact the pay gap is still at 28% between men and women in London. The pair are musically gifted too, performing a funny re-write of Sinéad O’Connor’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, in fact about a shoe, in perfect harmony before making a brief and witty dig at Miley Cyrus: “Dr Martens are for feminists and lesbians, not you Miley Cyrus,” to appreciative laughs from the audience. Their later reworking of Jason Derulo’s Talk Dirty to Me, featuring a spiel of truths about periods and ingrown hairs is squeamishly and equally as satisfying to listen to.
Bar the slight problem with blocking in certain scenes, leading to the multimedia images on screen being hidden by the commentator in the foreground, Mothersole and Biscuit have everything covered; they even have an act in place (or are exceptionally quick at improvising one) for when an audience member’s phone goes off, humorously musing over the fact they could be a doctor on call. Sh!t Theatre cover highly important issues with bountiful energy and from a necessarily feminist angle; I shan’t do them the injustice of commenting on whether they look lovely in the process.
Women’s Hour is playing at the Marlborough Theatre until 8 May 2016 as part of the Brighton Fringe. For more information and tickets, see the Marlborough Theatre website.