Frau Welt


 

You can tell at once that Peter Clements has been honing this character over the past few years. Frau Welt is executed precisely, the performance is tight, the gestures and facial expressions exquisite. Frau may be a large character but there is depth and pathos here. We laugh but we feel more than mirth.

From the moment of her entrance we are captured in her spell. Frau Welt tales the life story of a diva of the theatre (or tee-ay-ter, as Frau says it). Years in the Berliner Ensemble as Mother Courage and Brecht’s mistress; ambitions of Broadway stardom by way of a glomming friendship with one Angela Lansbury… it is also a tale of lost love and secrets. We are captivated, we are won.

Everything about this production is perfection. The sparseness of the stage and props. The deliciously and flawlessly chosen music (including my favourite Judy Garland song, ever), the costume and the wigs. Even though what they have chosen to dress her in must be hotter than hell under those lights.

When Frau Welt makes her entrance in the second act we are faced with a stunning vision, strutting towards us through smoke and techno. Looking spookily like Alla Nazimova in Camille, dressed in silver lurex, this is an image I won’t forget. When I think back on the great theatre I’ve seen in my life, this will be what I remember.

Hackney Showroom was a project launched on a mere 20k, a dream that became a reality of a space for collaboration, development and opportunity for performers and artists and community. It is glorious. Frau Welt is their first in-house production of a full piece of theatre and what a debut. All involved should be rightly proud of this gem. The new Big Space is wonderful. Stark yet welcoming, a classic non-proscenium stage. I fell in love with it at first site. And it’s perfect for such a piece; intimate, comfortable. There’s not a bad seat in the house.

Hackney Showroom have supported and presented countless queer performances and workshops in its short life. This is the kind of space we desperately need and deserve. Be sure to support them by attending performances and other events. You can even pledge donations if you want to contribute even more to this valuable piece of London arts and community life.

Frau Welt runs until 21st October. So, plenty of time to catch it. You will be grateful that you did.

Image by Holly Revell

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Split Britches


When I was a baby feminist, baby queer doing A level Theatre Studies back in the late 80s, I devoured anything I could find on feminist and gay theatre. There’d been a lot happening in the previous two decades and a lot going on (just out of reach of my geographic restrictions) at the time. It was exciting; it was mind-blowing; it was inspirational. I’d always wanted to be an actress but up to that point my ambition was to be on Dynasty. When I read about political theatre, my thespian world made a very different sort of perfect sense.

It was through my insatiable research into feminist/gay theatre that I first heard of Split Britches. To be honest, I pretty much fell in love with Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw the more I read. I’ve always liked my art and activism to be as full of F.U.N. as it can be and Split Britches were taking the complexities and controversies of gender and sexuality politics and making them accessible to a broad audience. La SWOON, darlings.

In recent years Lois Weaver has been teaching at Queen Mary University, crowd sourcing for a book on her life’s work and living her alter-ego, the most GLORIOUSLY named Tammy WhyNot? I keep hearing of these endevours and my love just grows and grows and grows…

When I found out that Split Britches are to be performing a Retro(per)spective of their decades worth of fabulous work as part of the SACRED festival, well darlings, I just plotzed. For ONE NIGHT ONLY we get to experience these incredible, essential and marvellous performers at The Chelsea Theatre, London.

Astonishingly, there are still a few tickets available. Snaffle them while you CAN, honies! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see something very, very special.

By Corinna ‘Mermaid’ Tomrley

Get your tickets here for Split Britches at the SACRED festival, Chelsea Theatre