If you see someone drop a five-pound note on the floor and continue walking, what do you do? I’m sure most of you are thinking “I’d pick it up and return it to the person” But, what if you had no money on you and no bank card to get any out, would your answer be the same? We all make choices every day and often these choices are shaped by our ideas on morality. And it is this concept that is at the heart of Emma Brown and Lawrence Smith’s new play Feet currently at Camden’s Etcetera Theatre.
Lucy (Emma Brown) has recently graduated from drama school and is now looking for that first big break to kick-start her career as a world-famous actress. Unfortunately, as she waits, the real world keeps intruding. Her bank rings her regularly to ask if she wouldn’t mind putting some money into her account and if it wasn’t for her boyfriend (Lawrence Smith) then her phone would be constantly blocked by her provider. Lucy is desperate and is surfing the web looking for legitimate ways to make money – like finding a sugar daddy – but doesn’t seem to keen on the way the ‘arrangements’ work. After a while, she stumbles upon a foot fetish website and realises that a few snaps with her camera and she can make some money from the podophiliac population out there. This really is easy money, a couple of photos of her tootsies, a quick bit of emailing and the money starts coming in. But then, one of her contacts wants to meet her and see her feet for himself and is willing to pay serious money to do so. Lucy now has a dilemma. Should she draw a line and not step over it or dip her toes into something new and possibly very lucrative?
Over the course of an hour, Feet manages to cover quite a range of topics and creates quite a few discussion points about the world we live in. There are often stories of students, burdened with the costs of university, turning to unusual methods of making some money. Everything from pole dancing to walking the streets. I’ve had a quick look on the internet this morning and unfortunately, Lucy’s experience isn’t that unusual. Within a few seconds, I found a whole host of ‘arrangement’ websites where people go and find their sugar daddies/mommies. Is that immoral? If everyone is on the same page and expects the same things from the ’relationship’ then maybe not, and yet… You see how Emma and Lawrence’s writing really set you thinking. Some first-rate writing there. And that’s without going into the whole idea of what is the difference between sending a couple of pictures of bare feet to someone for money and being paid to do a nude scene in a play?
As well as being good writers, Emma and Lawrence are really polished actors. Emma makes Lucy very real – though to my mind a touch naive, using her personal mobile and one bank account to conduct her business – as a young girl on the edge. Trying to pursue her dream while making ends meet. It was interesting to see how she grew during the play, from being a young girl, very dependant on her friends and boyfriend to becoming a woman who could hold her own. Personally, and without giving anything away, I think the final scene would have been the making of Lucy as she took her life forward. Lawrence was a perfect match for Emma. The chemistry between them was palpable and it is obvious the two are really good friends. I was really impressed with Lawrence’s ability to change personality – and accent – to play four very different characters during the show.
Overall, I found Feet to be a really interesting and engaging show. My one real criticism with the production was the opening scene. I personally would have preferred Emma to have articulated Lucy’s thoughts as she surfed the web rather than respond to a voice-over so that her reactions would have seemed more in tune with the words. For me, that was the weakest part of the production but luckily it picked up very quickly, culminating in a show that asked a lot of questions not only of the characters but of the audience.
Review by Terry Eastham
FEET is a brand new play written and performed by Emma Brown and Lawrence Smith. FEET asks provocative questions such as ‘why is sending a picture of your foot in a bowl full of jelly less socially acceptable than full frontal nudity onstage?’ Or why daily casting breakdowns tend to put the primary focus on appearance over ability.
The Oxford Arms
265 Camden High Street
London, NW1 7BU