EFR - Reviews of Buzz: A New Musical

Buzz: A New Musical

Fri 5th – Sat 27th August 2016

reviews

Ellen Hodgetts

at 00:13 on 23rd Aug 2016

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“It’s for the good of womankind.” This statement, from the opening song of ‘Buzz: A New Musical’ is sung by a group of male explorers who intend to hide their discovery of a vibrator during one of their historical excavations. However, whilst this phrase is initially meant to undermine the idea of the female sex drive, it is one which is challenged and subverted over the course of the next hour, becoming a tagline for the message of the show as a whole. ‘Buzz’ is a witty, intelligent and empowering piece of writing, which challenges the taboo of the female orgasm by speaking out about it in an engaging and innovative manner.

Angie, brilliantly characterised by Allie Munro, is horrified when she is dumped by boyfriend Mark so that he can focus his attention on his music. Turning to her friends for advice, what follows is a funny yet informative journey of self-exploration, both for Angie herself as she converts to the art of self-love, as well as for the audience, as they discover the history of female orgasms and the invention of the vibrator. The script is well written and the characters believable – Angie is down to earth and relatable, wittily navigating the awkward moments of the everyday modern woman, from third-wheeling two loved up friends on a date, to trips to the gynaecologist which are invaded by medical students. Pyjama-clad throughout, she builds upon the foundations laid by Bridget Jones, but takes them further into a victory for women which climaxes in its expression and normalisation of the aspects of sex which would usually render an audience uncomfortable.

The performance from all actors is expressive and intensely high energy, keeping the audience laughing throughout. It is both well sung and choreographed, supported by a talented ensemble who take both the audience and Angie on a journey throughout history. Moving seamlessly between such variable time periods as the Ancient Egyptians and the Victorians, transitions are marked by quick changes in costume and musical style, which although disjointed, due to the high energy levels of the cast, never falter.

Robyn Grant and Fat Rascal Theatre have produced a bold new piece of writing which is not afraid to shy away from what is usually left unsaid, or in this case, unsung. It is a modern day social commentary, but one that manages to remain light hearted and entertaining whilst challenging stereotypical views and social norms.

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Nina Klaff

at 15:20 on 23rd Aug 2016

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My editor’s smirk as he told me I would be seeing a show about dildos did have me a little apprehensive about 'Buzz: A New Musical'. My fears were unfounded: this Fat Rascal Theatre production fully restored my faith in theatre as a medium for change.

We follow Angie (Allie Munro) as she narrates her journey of sex-discovery after her egotist boyfriend of three years Mark, played by enchanting Hugh Laurie lookalike Aidan Napier, unceremoniously dumps her in a Pizza Express. Framed pictures of the couple and a sofa form the basis of the set as the vibrant cast enacts the history of sex toys from Cleopatra’s gourd filled with bees to the Rabbit vibrator Angie buys online with an unbelievable amount of costumes and props hidden behind the pink walls of her apartment.

The delicate subject of female pleasure does not allow for timidity, and Robyn Grant implores us to take her show with a pinch of salt. Even the program is humorous, with jokey cast descriptions and a special thanks to Beyoncé. Nevertheless, the research into 'Buzz' is evidently thorough: audience members are reminded of prominent scholars who were shunned for their studies such as Alfred Kinsey, who was labeled a sexual psychopath for gathering information on human sexuality through interviews; and Rachel Maines, who lost her career for having written a thesis on the history of vibrators, and this is a stark comment on the difficulty of this type of enquiry even in the technological age, as any search on the internet can lead one down some unfavorable routes. Masters and Johnson, the duo whose investigation into the anatomy of sex formed the basis for a recent television show, also make an appearance to narrate the physiology of Mark and Angie’s make-up sex behind the couch in a juxtaposition of serious, informative elements with light-hearted comedy. This perfect balance between entertainment and message is maintained throughout, as Angie reclaims her right to orgasm.

This scrutiny of the senselessness of the taboo surrounding one of our most base needs is ever more pertinent, when it is still widely believed that the 75% of women who cannot climax from penetrative sex have something wrong with them. 'Buzz' presents the female orgasm as a game of cat and mouse, trivialising the notion that women throughout the ages have been made to hide the key to nature’s blush from their male counterparts, and even themselves.

As the catchy ‘Me And My Cunt’ brings this brilliant piece of pop-feminism to a close, I am grateful to live in a 21st century in which we can address these matters in such wonderfully fun and free-spirited ways. 'Buzz' releases you of your inhibitions, and before you know it, you’re pocketing the 10% off Ann Summers discount cards they presumptuously leave on the seats.

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