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Dames Review London Pleasance Theatre

Dames, Pleasance - Courtesy of Scott Rylander - Charlotte Merriam and Bianca Stephens
Dames, Pleasance – Courtesy of Scott Rylander – Charlotte Merriam and Bianca Stephens

If you’ve ever wondered what women get up to in the ladies, this play is for you. A frenetic ride through the ‘female underworld’, Dames is a collection of conversations on friendship, womanhood and modern life. Written and starring Charlotte Merriam (Erin), the six young women meet, talk, laugh and leave the toilet on their night out. As one conversation opens up, another dissipates, an effect which is both compelling and a little anxiety-inducing. The women toss and turn between insecurities, arguments, laughter and gratitude, in a play that slips right through the grip of its audience at every opportunity.

I’m not sure representing young women as scattered and messy beings is all that new or different – it’s rapidly becoming its own cliche – but Dames offers up a particularly charming iteration on this theme. It’s randomness incarnate; not to everyone’s taste.

With a touch more focus, Dames could be an exploration with real insight. As it stands, the scattered glimpses of female life feel at times wholly true and heartwarming; at others, totally mystifying, pointless and vague. The moments where the charm of its cast and peculiar insight crystallise, offer the audience pure joy and a sense of belonging at its best.

On the other hand, the moments designed to discombobulate the audience don’t really give off the free-spirited eclecticism that seems to have been intended. Instead, the audience are left to wonder at what randomness will be offered up next. While there’s plenty to smile about, the darker emotions are delivered with far less of a punch than the comedy.

Part of this is to do with the performances, which are largely great but do occasionally veer into caricature – and part of this may be the lack of depth to the characters themselves. Reducing to stereotypes in a play exploring the female experience doesn’t always sit well with this reviewer, but the intentions do appear wholesome – there is a naivety and joy to the production which ultimately does it favours.

Dames is an energetic and poetic whirlpool of female-ness, complemented by excellent sound by Joshua Bowles. While I wish I knew more at the end, about any one of these characters, I was pleasantly surprised by the rollercoaster ride that it was. I just couldn’t help wishing that there was more desire to follow the threads through in this production, as they are all interesting facets of the female experience.

3 Star Review

Review by Christina Care

Siberian Lights & Rachel Kraftman Productions present the world premiere of DAMES.
It’s 2am on some idle Friday. Six women collide in the only place for honesty… a club toilet. Dames tells the story of six dysfunctional millennials struggling to make sense of the world beyond the bog. Dive into a cubicle of inebriated women drowning in their own word-vomit.

Dames
17th Apr 2018 – 29th Apr 2018
Main House – Pleasance London

Author

  • Christina Carè

    'Christina is just another Aussie in London, writing about the arts and signing up for all the weird performance productions the city has to offer. She is Content Editor at Spotlight and tweets from @christinacare.'

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