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The Queen’s Head is a short monologue, performed as part of the online festival, The Motherhood Project. This online festival offers a collection of short pieces surrounding the themes of pregnancy and motherhood. The pieces aim to tackle the taboos surrounding these themes and the festival as a whole is raising money for the charity Refuge. Undoubtedly, both this particular piece and this entire festival has its heart in the right place, but this particular short film misses the mark.
Written and performed by Katherine Kotz, The Queen’s Head focuses on a pregnant woman relaying the events of a recent disastrous zoom call. With the performance only being six minutes long, the film offers a snapshot into this character’s life, rather than a detailed story. For a script that mentions several important topics, six minutes cannot physically do the writing’s intentions justice. Normally, having moments of humour, balanced with more reflective interjections would be a good thing. However, with such a restricted running time, I think there is truly only enough room for one specific angle.
There is genuine humour in the writing, surprising humour that feels original and witty, but equally there are some attempts at comedy that do not land at all. Unfortunately, it’s the latter that stand out more. The moments I find humorous are understated and subtle, whereas the ones I do not are staged to be glaringly obvious in their attempts to be comical. There is clear potential in the writing, but at the moment such potential is overshadowed by somewhat misguided choices.
The narrative means that the film jumps between the present and flashbacks. Like the comedy, the two timelines have differing impacts. The scenes in the present play out like a therapy session, with our protagonist freely jumping from one thought to the other. It feels natural and is a good fit for this style of performance. Contrastingly, the flashbacks heavily overdramatise the events of this story’s infamous zoom call, causing an inconsistency which burdens this short film.
It’s important to note that there are 15 pieces being shown as part of this festival and a ticket grants you access to watch all of the performances. Having only seen this piece, I cannot judge the whole collection. Despite my issues with this particular piece, the variety of films being shown as part of this festival does leave the potential for other hidden gems to be uncovered.
The Queen’s Head is playing online until 2 May 2021. For more information and tickets, see Battersea Arts Centre online.