Review: Nor Woman Neither
Image courtesy Tristan Bates Theatre
Laura - Ingrid Schiller
Other - Verity Kirk
In a world burdened with the pressure of success, how far would you go to get what you want?
Nor woman Neither is a 60 minute play about Laura, an actress: failing - but failing confidently whilst drowning in a torrent of love, lust and ambition.
Faced with a life-changing dilemma, Laura rollercoasters through her torrid past in deciding what to do.
Through a series of individually striking and absorbing vignettes we follow Laura's developing womanhood from her early girlhood sexual flutter upon sighting Ursula Andress on television to her adult, struggling actress self.
Eugenia ZiranovaPerformance date: Wednesday 27 November 2019
When something bad happens to me, I think - why me?
What have I done to deserve this?
Is this fate or fluke?
Is life treating me unfairly, or is laser-guided karma serving me what I sowed?
Unsuccessful actress Laura (Ingrid Schiller) gets trapped, quite physically, into making a tough decision.
She asks herself how she ended up here, who she is and what she actually strives for.
In search of answers, she hops through selected memories, from childhood in South Africa, to school in England, to drama school, to the precarious life of an aspiring actress.
These episodes are rounded sketches in their own right, with ample tension between comedy and drama elements, and scores of well fleshed-out characters, all of them beautifully developed by Verity Kirk.
Simple soul, I love the actors' swagger when they turn into different characters in a matter of seconds, bringing me much delight.
Novelty does not ooze from the stories.
You can see a flicker of the Fleabag, a generous dollop of 'People, Places & Things', and an average teenager's awfulness in the school years.
However, that banality and routine of Laura's experiences are precisely the point the authors are making.
You do not need to be especially vulnerable, broken, or twisted to become prey.
Another thing this banality shows is how stealthily society plants behavioural patterns.
A little bit of discouragement here, a tad of suggestion there - and your own ambition already drives you to fitting into societal expectations.
Only by staring at the past can you pinpoint the precise moment when you joined the chase of unrealistic fantasy standards, like a Bond girl, just to impress your parents ... or to be loved.
I really liked how Laura's ambiguous tally-up line "But it doesn't feel bad. Not as bad as I thought I might feel," added depth to the story.
Did she mean "Safety and security in my upbringing shielded my self-esteem well, it's easy for me to make the right choice" - or "My sexuality is a valid means of reaching my goals, what I need is to play my cards smart"?
The social message, though, does not overload the comedy which charges along with sparkle and gusto.
Not only is the text genuinely funny, but the acting launches it further, timed to absolute perfection.
The other impressive thing was how mature director Stephen Doolan made the show look on an austere stage with minimal props and costumes.
The dialogue is performed disjointed, with the actresses facing the audience and not looking at each other, which delivers more kudos from tight comedy rhythm and emotional connection.
I thoroughly enjoyed Nor Woman Neither and would recommend for anyone looking for a perfectly paced comedy, providing substantial entertainment bang for its moderately priced ticket.
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