Theatre review: Frida Kahlo of Penge West at Rosemary Branch Theatre

The cast are Laura Kirman (brunette) and Cecily Nash (the blonde in the bed!)

The cast are Laura Kirman (brunette) and Cecily Nash (the blonde in the bed!) -- - Credit: Archant

This delicious double-hander brokers laughs and frustration alike. A product of writer/director Chris Larner, it’s a wry, comedic look at those who wreak immediate havoc upon those around them, testing patience and tolerance to the nth degree, and places the delusional aspirations of the belligerently determined under the microscope.

Laura Kirman is Zoe: a gentle, cheerful, earnest young professional who has fallen for her boss.

In an attempt to act on this desire, she nervously invites him to the theatre. With a positive response in the bag, she makes her way to the ticket office, where she is greeted by an old university acquaintance, Ruth (Cecily Nash).

Not only is Ruth outspoken, ditzy and ebulliently dramatic, she is also without the filter of social etiquette and self-awareness. She immediately imposes upon Zoe; demanding a place to crash now that she has broken up with her boyfriend. It quickly becomes apparent that a (university) friend in need is a burden indeed.

Whilst ensconced in Zoe’s apartment and licking the wounds of her breakup, Ruth sets about seeking inspiration. She wishes to create a seminal piece of theatrical work. She looks for female icons to provide the source of her triumph. Eventually, through much brainstorming, she settles on Mexican artist Frida Kahlo: an artist she believes to be a kindred spirit. Will the play be a success? Unsurprisingly, things flail and flap with farce and fireworks.

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Staged simply, the play’s success hinges on the charisma of the two performers. Whilst never shy of commitment, it’s a pity to report that this is where matters are unbalanced. The script certainly has verve and vim, but the conveyance is without much nuance. Although her role is the key comedy cipher, so consistently over the top is Cecily Nash’s Ruth that she risks casting Laura Kirman completely into the shade. A little more balance and this could be a thing of riotous wonder.

Until July 13.

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