It’s 1999. The millennium is on its way. And up and coming punk band The G-Stringz are playing at the Half Moon pub. Ketamine Kerry leads the way, as they penetrate the pub walls with their music, strumming fiercely on guitars and screaming out in frenzied song. But with the punk rock band scene comes other challenges: drugs, dodgy bouncers, and a choice to push forward with the music, or leave it all behind to lead a more conventional lifestyle. Hannah Benson’s production is a wild ride of dancing the night away and trying not to wet your knickers in the process.
We’re welcomed in with an infectious energy that spreads around the room, before the trio (Cara Baldwin, Laura Green and Catherine Davies) burst into a melodious cover of Shania Twain’s ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman’. The performers jump around the space like excited puppies on a mission. Baldwin (who plays Kerry and also wrote the text) moves her tongue around in a spirit of protest and encourages the audience to get excited. She straddles a gentleman in the front row, and affectionately rubs the face of another at the back. It’s a little uncomfortable, maybe.
The text itself is a little hard to grasp hold of. In one of the songs, we learn about an overdose of all the drugs that lead to temporary blindness (suitable titled ‘I can’t see’). And like the haze that fills the pub stages on a Friday night, we too feel like a haze has sometimes impaired our focus whilst watching the show. But this doesn’t matter too much. We feel alive with the music, despite the logistics of the story sometimes being lost in the echoes.
When the show starts seeping into a dark place, we’re sort of left with a reality of the limited success, as the band hits a point where they either need to go hard or go home. Fame is at their fingertips, but it won’t come easy, and friendships might not survive the length of the battle.
And then that image of Lola’s knickers on the floor; it should tear us, and it does a bit, but probably not as much as it should. There’s something in the build-up which doesn’t quite hit, so we maybe don’t care as much for these characters as we’re supposed to. But then Green speaks through the microphone with a painfully sinking voice, like a sleepwalker in a drunken daze. And it starts to hurt.
The company have made something that feels fresh and exciting. But it might need some dramaturgical work to make everything fit into place a bit more. That being said, breaking form is tricky for even experienced professionals, so congratulations to Burnt Lemon theatre for an electrifying new show, that lives and breathes and celebrates women and the knotty ties of female friendship.
The Half Moon Shania is playing at the ZOO Southside until 27 August 2018. For more information and tickets, click here.
Photo: Lidia Crisafulli