Narcissistic Nativity, Fucking Little Elf Bitch, Rosemary Branch

rsz_nativity-website

After 20 years running the Rosemary Branch, Cecilia Darker and Cleo Sylvestre moved on to pastures new in June this year. Unattended Items, a company with a focus on interactive theatre and design-led work, took over and have been busy programming work that has similar practices to their own.

Their Christmas bill of adults-only shows is no different. Urban Foxes Collective’s Narcissistic Nativity is a feminist, live art piece fighting against the patriarchy; Mammalian’s Fucking Little Elf Bitch is a one-woman show on the perils of working in a grotto. Both break down the fourth wall and use non-linear structures, and both need some tweaking for the sake of clarity, but this pair effectively balance current issues and laughs.

In Narcissistic Nativity, Saskia Marland is the hip and vapid angel Gabriel. Delightfully queer, Marland doesn’t hide that she is a woman in spite of Gabriel’s obsession with impregnating Mary and being the gatekeeper of her virginity. Mary (Elena Voce) is a highly strung, awkward virgin Mary. The two are leading heaven’s annual Christmas service, but the premise morphs into a focus on an earthly second coming.

The two plot lines aren’t fully connected, and the timeline is unclear. In trying to do both, the connection between the two ideas is neglected. Though there is plenty of humour, the feminism is underplayed in favour of laughs. Gabriel’s gift of a helmet to protect Mary from the glass ceiling is brilliant, though the visual becomes more of the focus rather than the realities Mary will face on Earth. Marland and Voce are excellent character actors with great energy and commitment to the work.

Fucking Little Elf Bitch, a monologue written and performed by Katherine Newman, tells the story of a writer who just got dumped by her boyfriend and, at 35, is wondering what the hell she’s done with her life after 13 years of elfing. This sends her into a spiral of destruction targeting the Winter Wonderland-esque place where she works.

Newman is a fantastic performer with an impressive range of accents under her belt. She’s charismatic and watchable, with her character Ivy evoking sympathy despite her violent bent.

Even though Newman’s script is linear, there are some rather unrealistic events which may be in the character’s imagination or dreams – the ambiguity is interesting, but alters the characterisation and point of the story. Ivy is otherwise well-detailed and the storyline is fairly polished.

More naturalistic and angry than Narcissistic Nativity, the two form a well-matched double bill in their contrast. Even though both scripts need some development for the sake of clarity, the premises are sound and the characters dynamic. Both companies, though new, were created by experienced practitioners and show a lot of promise – certainly ones to watch.

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s