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Double Infemnity

by on 4 February 2018

 

A Crime Noir Drama – With a Twist.

Double Infemnity

by Naomi Westerman, Catherine O’Shea, and Jennifer Cerys

Little but Fierce and Paperclip Theatre co-production at The Vaults, Waterloo until 4th February

Review by Georgia Renwick

The Vault Festival, currently taking place in the underbelly of Waterloo station, is the place to be for the new and experimental, and what better setting than the dark, damp arches of the underground for a crime noir drama … with a twist.

 

Our trilby hat-donned, mac-wearing, whiskey-sozzled, ruthless super sleuth … … is a she. As Effie-Lou leads us on her solo search for her missing partner, Jo, she is not only fighting crime but the sexism of the 1960s. She solves crime and subverts gender stereotypes wherever she goes, and boy have co-writers Naomi Westerman, Catherine O’Shea, and Jennifer Cerys have really gone to town on the stereotype busting!

Her new partner Brad, pretty but dumb, wanders in and out of the office (by means of a projection and voice over) half naked, reminiscent of the underwritten-oversexed female co-part in countless films both in and out of the crime genre. “Oh, go put a shirt on!”, she sighs with exasperation, “don’t play the goon, that role is usually reserved for me”. Then there are the cups of coffee she must make, the meetings she is butted out of, the gropes and period jokes. This play may be set in the 1960s, but these are a list of office grievances with an unmissable contemporary relevance. It’s no secret that office sexism still abounds.

Whilst the script is sparky however, opportunities have been missed to create much of anything suspenseful or sinister. With all the one-liners when the plot does take a serious turn towards sex trafficking, it is hard to take seriously. The ‘baddies’ are satirised with manic laughs and strange projections, it’s funny but it never really feels like there is a great deal at stake.

Similarly, with the stage and technical design the sinister factor is lacking. With a strict budget I imagine moody streetlights, driving rain or swirling cigarette smoke are hard to recreate, but perhaps some atmospheric music between scenes or some more dramatic lighting (to cast those sinister long shadows) would have aided in making it visually more reminiscent of that classic LA crime noir scenography. There are so many era references and cues in the evidently well-researched script, the opportunity is there to transpose more of them from the script to the staging.

Katrina Foster does a stellar job of keeping up the momentum of the monologue with oodles of sass. However, as Effie’s fierce feminist-heroine mode never really lets up enough to show her vulnerability, there aren’t many other levels to play with.

The decision to bring other characters in as sound clips was not a help to Foster either. The clips made the characters feel far off, and the challenge of timing them with Foster and the projections sometimes stalled the action. When Foster had the opportunity to don a wig and play a ‘baddie’ (hanging nonchalantly on a wall throughout, a nice touch) this was refreshing. She breathed life into the part a great deal better than voice clips could have done.

The laughs were the loudest and the play at its best when the audience were being directly engaged by Foster, moments that allowed the audience to be more intimately included in Effie’s one-women mission. Overall, it is an hour of feminist infused fun. Now the challenge will be to take the show above ground, whilst taking the story deeper into the crime-noir world.

Georgia Renwick
February 2018

Image courtesy of Little but Fierce

 

 

 

From → Drama, Fringe, Reviews

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