Mind Your Head Theatre : 'SCRIBBLE: Gender' - review

Mind Your Head Theatre's debut production was called 'SCRIBBLE: Gender', composed of a mixture of short plays and sketches. Together, they ask some difficult questions (with a few laughs thrown in) about issues of gender and the assumptions people have about it. The whole thing was paced over two acts and I thought fairly well arranged.

Act 1 began with 'Artswine', which was divided into three monologues, punctuating the two longer pieces of the first half. 'Artswine' was written and directed by Jessica Daniels (one half of 'Mind Your Head') and played by Marni Appleton. The subject being one I'm familiar with, I felt they touched on several truths about the delusions of 'individuality' which encourage conformity in art students. Although it took a while for the audience to take to it, I noticed more appreciation during the latter parts.

'Ave Maria' by Carrie Walsh was directed by Marni Appleton. Mary is played by Lucy Hagan-Walker. I thought she played the role with authority. Rosie Louden successfully played Dorothy. Although convincing in itself, the problem was that the subject has been visited quite often in recent years. Most memorably in Peter Mullan's 'The Magdalene Sisters'. The actors also had the added problem avoiding cartoon Irish accents. Still, some good points were made.

Things got pretty dark for Annette Brook's 'One in Three' which considered the appalling statistic that one in three women will be raped or assaulted sexually in their lives. It was a difficult role in another way too. The timing of the dialogue had to be spot on and it was. Lucy Hagan-Walker, Paige Wilson and Rosie Louden performed well and accurately captured the subject. Again successfully directed by Jessica Daniels.

Act 2 began with Emma Bentley's own work 'A Personal Front'. A humorous and probably accurate look at the trials of a competitive young Drama student, in which she kept up the dramatic pace and held the audience. Emma asked relevant questions about gender roles in performance - why can't she play Hamlet?

Deadly serious was Wendy Thomson's 'Not I'. This was a series of three monologues which explored different aspects, from three distinct perspectives about the difficult subject of abuse. This was an intense and absorbing work that carefully considered the human cost. In 'Invisible', Mary Roubos plays a young woman sat stuffing her face to blot out the hideous memories that have fractured her life. In 'Old Babies', Lucy Hagan-Walker plays a carer who carefully dehumanises those she supposedly cares for. She sits there, avoiding the consequences of her actions. The lost teacher, in 'One In Four', played by Gavin Dobson, is never able to escape from somebody else's lies. With the exception of the falsely accused young teacher, casting the other two characters proved problematic. I felt this wasn't really the fault of the actors. They were either too young or the wrong physical type to be totally credible, but they did give it their best.

'Midlife of Margot' by Dominic Stevenson was a particularly strong work that explored the complex decisions, dichotomies and unforeseen consequences of an abortion. The effects on all those involved and their interconnecting lives.

One annoying thing was the audiences predilection for laughing at any hint of humour; even if it wasn't there. I suppose it's a nervous reaction, but it at times damaged the mood the players were trying to create.

A word about the theatre (downstairs at Ophelia Dalston). It was a really nice place to spend time and the staff were great. The problem however was with the seating. The space and how it was divided. I sat at the back, and consequently had to stand in order to see the stage completely. One solution to this problem would be to realign the stage so it is moved to the right and set as a right angled triangle.

A good production overall I thought. On a final point, I feel it is worth noting Lucy Hagan-Walker. I felt that she proved herself an adaptable actor. Also Wendy Thomson and Dominic Stevenson I felt had interesting things to say. I look forward to new work. 'Mind Your Head' next tackles the subject of Welfare. This will also be interesting I've no doubt.

(C) Gideon Hall 2014
reviewed Sunday 14th December, Opehlia Dalston, London.


Performed by Marni Appleton
Written and directed by Jessica Daniels

Ave Maria
Mary - Lucy Hagan-Walker
Dorothy - Rosie Louden
Written by Carrie Walsh
Directed by Marni Appleton

One in Three
1 - Lucy Hagan-Walker
2 - Paige Wilson
3 - Rosie Louden
Written by Annette Brook
Directed by Jessica Daniels

A Personal Front
Written and performed by Emma Bentley
Directed by Holly Robinson
Produced in association with joue le genre

Not I
Invisible - Mary Roubos
Old Babies - Lucy Hagan-Walker
One in Four - Gavin Dobson
Written by Wendy Thomson
Directed by Jessica Daniels and Marni Appleton

Midlife of Margot
Margot - Jessica Daniels
Doctor Martinez - Paige Wilson
Ensemble - Mary Roubos and Cristobal-Pizarro
Written by Dominic Stevenson
Directed by Lizzy Steel

Mind Your Head is Jessica Daniels and Marni Appleton
For SCRIBBLE : Gender Associate Producer - Victoria Eyton. Technical Support - Jared Barkla
Facebook : mindyourheadtheatre
Twitter @MYHtheatre

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