A GIRL AND A GUN
by Louise Orwin.
Camden People’s Theatre 58-60 Hampstead Road NW1 2PY To 3 October 2015.
24-26, 30September, 2, 3 October 7.30pm.
Tickets: 0207 419 4841.
Review: Carole Woddis 17 September.
Fantastic feminism in Camden.
A couple of years ago Louise Orwin’s Pretty Ugly headlined ‘Calm Down, Dear’, the UK’s first and only festival of innovative feminist theatre. Curated by Jenny Paton and Brian Logan, it was, as Logan noted this year, a crazy thing to do, given the anti-feminist feeling around at the time.
Two years on, the number of applicants for this year’s festival has, he says, exploded. It’s heartening to find such excitement sprouting-up. Camden People’s Theatre is very much a community theatre, small, basic. But the festival and the buzz around it are unmistakeably electric.
Orwin’s A Girl and A Gun, again headlining (along with Racheal Ofori’s Portrait), confirms why, in the intervening period, I’ve often found myself referring back to Pretty Ugly, in which Orwin pinpointed what has become a national concern about the effect of social media on young girls’ body image and self-confidence, with a show that discomfited, took great risks but always had a conscious sense of theatrical impact.
A Girl and A Gun similarly raises uncomfortable thoughts and reflections. Inspired by French avant garde film guru Jean-Luc Godard’s comment, “all you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun,” Orwin mimics the cinematic stereotypes of woman and gun-toting hero in a self-consciously `false’ manner with the help of a male colleague.
Everything is read from autocues, underlining the artificiality and manipulation inherent in film-making. And use of women.
Except Orwin is always the one in control – an extraordinary, magnetic performer. Heightened by dance, dress and lipstick, her `character’, with a Blanche du Bois southern drawl, is sexy, vulnerable and masochistic.
Beside her, Andrew Barton (each performance will see a different `Him’) plays-up the macho cowboy cliché with delightful irony.
At times rough-edged – one of the three screens was malfunctioning – and often rekindling memories of performance art duo Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw’s satirical lesbian treatment covering similar ground some years ago, Orwin is still a spell-binder, asking awkward questions about voyeurism and audience complicities. And her music choices are fantastic, especially her dance to Nancy Sinatra’s `These boots are made for walking’.
Performer: Louise Orwin.
Lighting: Alex Fernandes.
Dramaturg: Andy Field.
A Girl and A Gun is a Contact and MC Amsterdam Flying Solo commission, supported by Arts Council England, Camden People’s Theatre London and Buzzcut/Jerwood.
For more info on the festival, www.cptheatre.co.uk; @CamdenPT