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Review of Awkward Topic – Camden Fringe

Awkward TopicMalarkey Theatre is a group of savvy, sassy, street-wise females who learnt their trade at Rose Bruford and who are now unafraid to tackle in depth those controversial issues of feminism, date rape and how long it takes, and just how much it costs, for a girl to doll herself up in preparation for club, party or dinner.

These four very natural performers have a tremendous rapport and have the knack of being able to move swiftly and seamlessly from relaxed, fun, pre-date let’s-get- ready-together mode into the far more serious stuff like can you be a feminist and still spend £12.50 on Max Factor eye-liner and is it rape if you say “no” whilst rubbing the guy’s back: “I thought that meant she liked it” is the guy’s excuse. The show is part verbatim theatre using the actual words of men – sometimes with chilling effect.

The play is written by Clare Noy, who also performs, and her three co-performers have helped her develop it through a rigorous rehearsal and devising process. Rachel Rooney, Elle Wilson and Lauryn Jamieson, along with Noy, are like Barcelona FC, drilled and professional but at ease when in possession and instinctively knowing where their teammates are without having to look.

Noy’s script is funny – girl-talk done well inevitably is – but grows in intensity as the show evolves and the theme of consent is expanded: if a man buys all the drinks does this mean he can expect to have sex whenever he wants? The answer to that is cloaked in the always startling statistic that 1 in 5 females in the UK have experienced some kind of sexual assault (a statistic also mentioned in recently reviewed Stalking The Bogeyman). And what about cat-calling? Fun? Or street harassment? Or abuse? In the spirit of Malarkey Theatre’s mission to entertain and educate I discovered that the practice began way back in the 17th century. And there was I thinking all this time that it was inspired by Perry Como’s 1957 hit “Magic Moments”.

What are the answers? Well, it’s complicated. Malarkey theatre wants us to at least recognise the questions.

Awkward Topic is an excellent show performed with panache and enthusiasm by this talented cast who fuse clever physical theatre sequences with the dialogue for emphasis and illustration. It is effectively lit and has an engaging contemporary soundtrack – both provided by Nikhita Lessler. This is great Fringe theatre and above all these young women have developed a piece that has integrity and that entertains, yes, but also asks us to engage in the discussion rather than pass by on the other side.

5 Star Rating

Review by Peter Yates

Devised by Rose Bruford Acting Foundation Graduates, Awkward Topic is a tongue in cheek play written with the words of just under 100 men and women. Through four girls on a night out we share real people’s awkward moments, question how gender affects us and whether you can use your boobs to get a free drink and still call yourself a feminist.

Twitter: @CamdenFringe @MalarkeyTheatre
Booking to 14th August 2016


  • Peter Yates

    Peter has a long involvement in the theatrical world as playwright, producer, director and designer. His theatre company Random Cactus has taken many shows to the Edinburgh Fringe, the London Fringe and elsewhere and he has been associated with the Wireless Theatre Company since its inception where his short play Lie Detector can be heard: Wireless Theatre Company.

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