Ragged tights, badly dyed hair, smeared lipstick, and ratty split ends. Three girls bound towards you as you enter the studio in Zoo, asking you your name and pressing a small pink guitar pick into your sweaty palm. They are tall and seem to tower above you, with their guitars and microphones. Burnt Lemon’s show The Half Moon Shania, takes places at the turn of the Millennium, with everyone feeling a little bit on edge and a little bit scared of the future. Cara Baldwin, Laura Green, and Catherine Davie are raucous and carefree, throwing themselves around the stage and harmonising into microphones. It is an hour of unadulterated wildness.
Baldwin plays Kerry, “Ketamin Kerry” (as she calls herself), snarls her teeth at us and distorts her body into strange, uncomfortable shapes. She moves in and out of exaggerated postures, cackling all the while. It seems that in her disaffection for being a sexy woman she begins to redefine the genre. She makes people a little uneasy. Her eyes follow you around the room and she sings into your face while climbing over the back of a chair. Yet, in the small Zoo venue it does jar slightly. Three drama school graduates are perhaps trying to mould themselves into a shape that they don’t quite fit into. For all the screeches and strumming, it seems there isn’t a whole bunch of fire in the piece. Nevertheless it is no small feat to work up a midday crowd, and this company give it their best shot. They let the story wrap around the gig, and then let it take over completely. What emerges is a retelling of every night out for women. As much as you might yearn to have a wonderful time, and do everything for yourself, and fuck off sexiness for something stronger, something harsher, the power will still swing back into the hands of the men. Three women on stage is a rare feat even at Fringe and I was pleading with them to fight back against the endless flyers telling me ‘men don’t know where flirting ends and sexual harassment begins!!! So we made a stand up set about it’. As the show drew to a close however, it seemed these issues were not going to be tackled so much as skimmed. It’s a fact that this stuff happens and for everyone except maybe the cis-gendered men in the audience, nothing about the occurrences in the piece are shocking. The true “issue” of the piece felt tacked on, and it could really have been teased out.
I yearn for the three women to have a crowd as riotous as them – clawing and writhing right alongside them. Give these women a late night at the Roundabout and then they’ll show you what they can really do. I want them to be lit up with anger and riotous joy, but actually, most of all, I just want them to be themselves. The show is undoubtedly fun, but I feel like I see none of who they really are in it, and because of that, it doesn’t connect with me. There’s nothing solid to hang on to that makes me go, yeah, that’s me, I’ve been there. These women are caricatures, which is stylistically interesting but results in an emotional distance from the whole thing. I am so excited about the potential of this young company, I just couldn’t fully get on board with this punk show.
The Half Moon Shania is on at ZOO until 27 August. Click here for more information.