Within the Bussey Building for the last full week of June, Paradise means a chance to be voted the winner in a competition of beauty and skill in a televised pageant.
With a distinctly 80s feel and a penchant for glitter and balloons, Geranium Theatre Company seeks to send up the world of beauty pageants, televised competitions, the modern dating world and all that they encompass. What emerges is an attempt to ridicule the procedure of dressing women up, thrusting them into the spotlight and making them perform against one another in an attempt to win a truly useless title. In this instance Miss Paradise 2015, but of course on a wider scale the company could argue that this is how the media pitch women against each other day by day.
Paradise features an entirely female cast with one female filming select scenes that are then fed live to a large television facing the audience, meaning our vision is doubled. It is a woman who is controlling what we see and how information is framed and communicated to the audience. The company seek to mock the overly manicured and desperately aware procedure of pageants, and more familiar to their audience, Tinder and modern dating at large.
The production has moments of solid comedy, but mostly feels like your overhearing a joke being told by strangers that lasts a noticeable 40 minutes longer than it should. As an idea, or a brief skit, the piece would work well. The actors are convincing and have great delivery, yet the show is indulgent and fails to really make a comment of worth. Instead it’s a series of very pretty girls sending themselves up in front of a generous crowd of friends and family.
There is nothing demonstrably wrong with the piece, but it doesn’t deserve a greater platform for recognition as it makes familiar statements and frames then in a pretty pedestrian way.
Like an 80s school hall transformed for prom, I can understand the aesthetic the theatre company created and think they show a great level of understanding for what an audience may want from a fringe show, but altogether Paradise doesn’t really hold up as anything more than a few laughs.
Paradise captures the insincerity of television and the performers are brave, putting themselves on the line for laughs, but it left me feeling rather flat and uninterested.
Paradise is playing at the Bussey Building until 25 June. For tickets and more information, see the CLF website.