If you were on London’s famous South Bank this July, you might have spotted these wonderfully mysterious women roaming around, red briefcases in hand and wearing black trench coats. Well you would have seen the cast of Red Ladies on their inspections, looking from different observation decks…but just what do they want exactly?
Following their observations around the South Bank , Red Ladies get together in Purcell Room to perform their, as they call it, “theatrical demonstration” in five moments. They remember, they fight, they knit, everything you could imagine, before they head back out again in their disguises once more.
Within the opening dialogue of the show, they say “The future…is not what you’re going to see tonight” and too right they were. It is a completely different take on what you have seen before and rids itself of any clichés that you might expect from theatre like this. Keeping sets and lighting to a minimum, we focus on the movement and words on stage rather than be distracted by anything else.
One of the key distinctions about this show is the mixture of all mediums. The chaotic moments of stage combat are met with calming poetry, and the cast move to the original score and voice-overs too (some of the voice-overs include Bill Clinton and Emily Beavis).
The 18-strong cast are absolutely phenomenal, and while it would take my whole world count to name every single one, each ‘red lady’ brings their own personality and flare to the show. And they have what every show should have: a diverse, all-ages cast (according to the cast list, one member was born in 1928) that were perfectly in sync and were wonderful through out. It is truly a celebration of women and their stories, whatever background they are from.
Suzy Wilson’s choreography and direction is simple yet absolutely breathtaking, mixing simple movement with brutal fight scenes that you cannot help but keep your eyes on through out. Mix that in with composer Paul Clark’s original pieces, and you have really got something special. This reviewer is not one that seeks out contemporary theatre of this kind, but if it is all like this, I might have to seek it out more often.
Red Ladies may be short, but it packs a punch in this short amount of time. Mixing dance, audio, poetry and monologues, Clod Ensemble have taken all the rules we know about theatre, scrunched them up, and done it in its own genius way.
Red Ladies in on tour until 27 July. For more information and tickets, see Clod Ensemble’s website.