The Half Moon Shania

Mon 13th – Mon 27th August 2018

reviews

Claire Louise Richardson

at 11:07 on 22nd Aug 2018

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'The Half Moon Shania' by Burnt Lemon Theatre was an exciting and intoxicating hour of psychedelic punk rock performed the talented trio of Cara Baldwin, Laura Green and Catherine Davies. They make up the fictional band ‘The G Stringz’. Performing their set on New Year’s Eve of the millennium in 1999, at the grotty Half Moon Pub, they trying to impress an agent from ‘Diamond Records’. They weave Canadian singer Shania Twain’s music around the narrative of the band, and it is haunted by the conflict of their relationships with each other, with their futures, and with the drug culture in the creative industry.

The girls are talented musicians. Their narrative is both sensitive and funny, and with their fishnet tights, backcombed hair, dark eyes, and flashes of pink, the girls make a convincing cast. Each can sing, and lock eyes on an audience member to send a shiver down their spine. They use a loop pedal and two guitarists, and musical director Tomas Wolstenholme has done a fantastic job to fit the girls and the music around the story.

As the piece progresses there are some bizarre, scary moments, and stand-out lead singer ‘Ketamine Kerry’ handles her storyline about drug dealing with conviction, and the girls explore the harassment women receive on night’s out, and as performers. The girls debate whether or not they should discard their defining G strings in favour of a more practical career path – to "swap it for a pair of sensible briefs" – and to cease their pursuit of the music industry via their pub tour. They ask a member of the audience to sniff their "original G string," tainted with a yellow stain – they tell us that they remain "opti-piss-stic" for their music careers. This is a reminder of the struggles of women, of the seeming impossibility of the music industry, and of the friendship that the girls need to survive in this environment.

As Twain says, it’s the woman's prerogative to have a little fun. Describing themselves as "spilling from gut to stage" this is certainly achieved. It’s a shame they don’t have an evening slot in a pub for it, and I don’t have a drink in hand. Despite this, it feels as though we are not a Fringe audience, but the actual audience at the Half Moon, witnessing the band’s turmoil. As a reviewer, I feel a bit like a representative for Diamond Records myself – I would sign them.

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Beatrix Swanson Scott

at 11:27 on 22nd Aug 2018

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Burnt Lemon Theatre are a young female-led theatre company supported by the New Diorama Theatre’s Graduate Company Programme this year. With Half Moon Shania, they have created an exciting piece of gig theatre under the banner of Shania Twain’s words: "the best thing about being a woman is the prerogative to have a little fun."

As the audience enter the space, the wildly dressed teenage girls are setting up their stage, checking guitar and bass volumes and arranging mic stands, from which bright pink – you guessed it – g-strings hang. What follows is three quarters of an hour of riotous noise and bold female expression, structured around one concert by a fictional 1990s girl punk band that likes to cover Shania Twain. 'The G Strings' are at the Half Moon pub playing the most important gig of their short post-secondary school career so far. There is a representative from Diamond Records in the audience and this is their one chance to seal a deal!

Ketamine Kerry, the frazzled and energetic singer (Burnt Lemon’s Co-Artistic Director Cara Baldwin deserves a special mention for her wonderfully physical performance in this role), Emma, the comparatively level-headed and business-like guitarist, and Lola, the shy bassist whose parents would rather she’d stick to the cello and apply to university, are giving it their all – but the all-too-familiar mix of drugs, alcohol and sexual predators is out to destroy this girls’ night out.

Told through a mixture of brash but well-harmonised song and spoken word/rap, this is a well-constructed, snappy show. However, one feels that not enough space is given to its darkest and most important themes, leaving audience members, especially women like me, with little to connect to, unless they happen to be punks themselves. In fact, one might end up mistakenly thinking the show is about punk music. Nevertheless, the energy and chemistry between the cast members bodes well for the company, and left me intrigued to see what they do next.

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