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Review of Leopardess at The Canal Cafe Theatre

LeopardessI suppose there are people who would run a mile or more, if only metaphorically, at the idea of paying to see a show that presents “an exploration of politics”. That said, an exploration of politics could mean almost anything, and in Leopardess the exploration is certainly very broad. I had accepted an invitation to have a photo taken on an iPad (an iPad of one of the cast, not mine) before even going into the theatre, stood next to a cardboard cut-out of prospective parliamentary candidate Sarah M Anson: at this point the comedy atmosphere had already been established.

As far as this show is concerned, the fight for the next General Election – not until 7th May 2020, in line with the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 – begins now. Sarah M Anson (imaginatively or unimaginatively, the cast play characters of their own names) is presented as the ‘mean face of green politics’, and the Leopardess Movement is out to out-green the Green Party, which, to be fair, doesn’t say much for the newly created entity.

The Movement assumes plants are stronger than people, “Try pushing over a tree!” and slyly demonstrate an environmental point by inviting an audience member to have a biscuit (a custard cream to be precise) before going to some lengths to explain why such biscuits are bad. Our ‘biscuit boy’ is, apparently, a murderer – custard creams are one of the many supermarket products containing palm oil, the production and insatiable demand of which has led to deforestation, and therefore (to cut short a long narrative) an increase in the number of both endangered and extinct species.

Sarah and her loyal assistants (or are they loyal?) ‘big’ Rosie Frecker and ‘little’ Rosie Abraham (I hope I’ve got that the right way around!) are the very first to present a manifesto for Election 2020. This manifesto sets out to put cycling on the map. The Cycling Highway is supposedly a set of cycle paths built some considerable distance above street level (emphasis on the word ‘high’), approximately following the routes of the London Underground (so no highway for Hackney). There’s also recycling (for which read hand-me-downs) and upcycling, allegedly the art of reusing unwanted items by converting them into something else of practical use.

All of this is quickly overshadowed, however, by the revelation of certain personal details of the Leopardess trio. There are playwrights who prefer not to involve mobile telephony in their shows, even to the point of setting their plays in a bygone era, because they think their plays would be over very quickly if someone decided to look into a perplexing question by whipping their phone out and typing in relevant criteria into a search engine. Leopardess is bold enough to use Twitter feeds and text messaging as a means to introduce twists in the plot. Some of these are arguably predictable, but all are amusing.

There are also some hilarious video footage of friends and family of members of the Leopardess Movement worth mentioning. These edited interviews largely lend no credibility to the Movement whatsoever, but are useful additions to the show itself, especially where the trio are off-stage altogether as a video plays. The video then effectively acts as a soliloquy, or more specifically, a comic monologue. And there were no technical glitches to put the show in jeopardy – hurrah!

The trio are equally engaging and clearly enjoy themselves presenting their show, which palpably adds to the audience’s enjoyment in turn. There’s a lot packed into this little show, which demonstrates well that things are not always what they seem, and as Sarah puts it, words need to be put in their proper context in order to be fully understood. It’s a problem, living in an era where information becomes available as events happen – without being in possession of all the details because it would take more than 140 characters to explain, at what point do we make a judgement?

Leopardess is a comedy indeed, but also one that left me with considerable some food for thought. A political comedy play about a brand new party may seem an implausible success, but this one is not only successful, it’s impressive.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

The Leopardess is fearless; she runs in the sunlight, she devours her prey, she leaps through the trees… And this year she is gracing the Camden Fringe with her almighty presence. Join Sarah, (big) Rosie & (little) Rosie as they present to you an exploration of POLITICS.

Are you tired of useless politicians being useless? Are you fed up of having a leader who looks like a thumb?* Are you bored of politicians saying “well, let me answer that directly…” then going off on a massive tangent whilst waving their arms about like an upset spider? Then join us! Introducing the Leopardess Movement, a new political party who want YOUR vote. 3 months late or four years and three months early, depending on how you look at it; but if Sandi Toksvig can do it, so can we.
*Sorry Dave!! We owe you a choc ice for that.

Leopardess are: Rosie Frecker, Rosie Abraham & Sarah Anson. All 3 East 15 grads, Frecker and Abraham were previously members of sell-out sketch comedy group ‘Simply The Jest’, and Abraham has recently completed the number one tour of ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’. Sarah has done f*ck all.

18+
15th, 17th and 18th August, 2015
Canal Cafe
http://www.canalcafetheatre.com/

Sunday 16th August 2015

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