BTR - Reviews of Wolf Whistle

Wolf Whistle

Sat 2nd – Sun 17th August 2014

reviews

Anna Grace Symington

at 00:04 on 5th Aug 2014

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The description of this play that is posted on the Edinburgh Fringe Festival website makes it sound like a cheesy E4 comedy drama for teenage girls. This, however, is profoundly misleading. Joanna Alpern's play Wolf Whistle is in fact a thought-provoking exploitation of three radically different women that share a similar concern. The title, suggestive of objectification, is an indication of the function of the play: giving a voice to three women who are likely to be misjudged because of their appearance and self-presentation.

For starters, hats off to the writer. This is a well structured play that makes good use of its form. The rubric for the piece is a familiar one. All three characters are on stage at all times. Each character speaks in turn, existing in a separate world from one another. And, with love-actually-esque smoothness, the characters lives are subtly interwoven in the plot. While this is not a particularly innovative or challenging format it is well deployed here, bringing the character contrast needed by a play which is about the internal workings of people who seem like stereotypes.

The actors were all of a high standard. Cate Kelly plays Becca, a flirty school girl who likes looking good. Her seductive movements are interspersed with childish quivers of excitement, capturing both the confidence and the vulnerability of young women at 16 years of age.

Coco Claxton's character, Amanda, is a fascinating specimen. Obnoxious, self-righteous and uncaring are just three understating adjectives that spring to mind when attempting to describe this character. The deluded school graduate on her third extended gap year is carrying out yet another round of applications to medical school and takes great pleasure in smugly rubbing it in everyone's faces. Claxton's performance managed to portray all this without losing the audience's sympathy, an impressive feat.

The final character Clare, played by Laura Ferguson, is far more subtle than the other two. Without the sassiness of Kelly's character or the insanity of Claxton's, Furgeson does not have the same opportunities to explore Clare's emotional specturm. She is nonetheless able to put a lot of expression into the character's lines, revealing the deep and desperate struggles hidden below the plain exterior. The only drawback to Furgeson's performance is that her youthful face made an unconvincing middle-ages bus driver. This could have been easily fixed with makeup and/or hair spray.

A good piece with a good cast, this show is worth popping into for those looking for a play that gets you thinking about some of the more profound issues out there.

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Ellie Taylor

at 03:34 on 5th Aug 2014

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The idea of three women sharing a stage but delivering monologues does not sound like the makings of a particularly interesting show. In reality what writer Joanna Alpern managed to convey was remarkable. We were regaled with the tales of three women of differing ages, personalities and lives, unified by the simple premise of three missed periods.

We were firstly introduced to Amanda, played by Coco Claxton, who came across as a deeply uptight young woman. It was almost painful to watch the extent of her rigidity: Coco masterfully commanded her voice and movement to match Amanda's persona. Becca, played by Cate Kelly, embodied the temptress, drawing her inspiration from classical nymph Circe. She was simultaneously every part the flirty school girl, hair-twirling and all. Finally we meet Clare, played by Laura Ferguson: a sweet but somewhat downtrodden middle aged woman. Constantly running herself down without even noticing it, Clare immediately gained the trust of the audience who see how her kind nature is taken advantage of from the outset.

Immediately impressive was the show’s set. Amanda’s sparse desk, Becca’s catwalk-like platform, and Clare’s homely chair surrounded by chores reflected their personalities perfectly, making the characterisation even stronger. Of course, as the show went on and the audience learned that there is more to these women than first impressions suggest, the sets served to reinforce that people are rarely what they seem on the surface.

The stories of the three women were gripping enough on their own, but Joanna Alpern took things further by subtly linking the monologues together. Whether it was something small such as one of the girls getting on Clare’s bus, or something more substantial, these small overlaps intensified the already rapt attention of the audience and gave the show another layer of meaning. Even when their speech did coincide, the women stood on stage completely unaware of each other, and each held their positions perfectly while another was speaking.

Each woman’s story line was tied up with varying levels of resolution. Having found out why they have skipped their periods, the audience know that the initial impressions made by Amanda, Becca and Clare only scratch the surface of three complex personalities. I feel that these admissions were less surprising than they were meant to be, but this does not have a large impact on the success of the play in general. As a whole, Wolf Whistle is a gritty and thought provoking piece that challenges its audience in the best possible manner.

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