China Blue Fish and Deborah Antoinette present an evening of sketch comedy circling around female genitalia, sexuality, body image, masculinity, feminism, the patriarchy and much more. It is a random evening exploring the many layers of the female experience, and the duo successfully keep their audience engaged and entertained, but if you are after a deep or thought-provoking message, you might be disappointed.
Both Fish and Antoinette are in their element – it is clear that they are comfortable with their material which has been touring all over the country. They embody characters like Frida Kahlo, Theresa May and the Virgin Mary with ease, giving detailed performances. The clowning is really good, and everyone on stage gives their all, including the performing stage manager, who often steals the show as she moves props around gingerly and with an excited smile, dressed as a clitoris. At one point Fish squirts milk out of her breast on cue – it is just as impressive as hilarious, definitely a highlight of the evening.
The show is sharp and flows nicely; both performers sing and move with precision and the transitions are aided by a very charismatic, talking clitoris. However, amongst the franticness and well-delivered comedy, the show has many opportunities to get deeper and explore current issues, but never quite gets there. At one point Antoinette breaks character and tells Fish she is ‘uncomfortable’ to say the next lines. Fish assures her it is all verbatim, to which they both return to their characters, two men’s rights activists, claiming some women lie about being raped. And here we come to an interesting moment, an opportunity to delve deeper, below the humour, and explore the basement – the entire audience falls silent, and is ready for it. But instead, Fish and Antoinette carry on with the comedy. The moment, while set up very nicely, is left unfinished.
I often felt like this throughout. A gin drinking Virgin Mary or a sexually passionate Frida Kahlo, while entertaining, isn’t really offering anything new, and although I understand sketch comedy shows thrive on randomness, I couldn’t see what these scenes where trying to say collectively as a whole.
A post-show discussion featured a panel of Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of Fawcett Society and Robbie Taylor Hunt of the Good Lad Initiative, chaired by the show’s producer, Hannah Elsy. It is an illuminating discussion about toxic masculinity and periods in the trans community, amongst other topics, and all involved with the show are very honest about not knowing all the answers. I wish this openness and eloquence could have been more present in the show.
Queen Cunt: Sacred or Profane? played at the Bunker Theatre until 11 March 2019. For more information and tickets, see the Bunker Theatre website.