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Boom Jennies – We Want Action

Friday, 20 August, 2010

Fresh-faced comedy drama

Edinburgh 2010, Pleasance Courtyard – 4 – 31 Aug 10 – 14:10 (1.00)

Anna Emerson, Tom Shepherd, Catriona Knox, Lizzie Bates. Photo by Carolyn Gaskell

We Want Action is a fresh faced comedy play which provides a satire of the self indulgence of today’s spoilt middle class twenty-somethings. The kind of people who complain but don’t change anything, who look no further than Google for the answers, and who believe that organic equals fair-trade equals ethical.  A small collective of revolutionaries known as the United Campaigners on Ocean Conservation have taken it upon themselves to fight for depleting fish stocks through campaign and protest.  But some misguided and poorly researched attempts to protect their beloved beasts leave the group, UCOC, as the laughing stock.

Daphne, Amelia and Martin are holding a rally as they hope to attract more revolutionaries to their cause.  Along with liberal smatterings of all the British comedy favourites: irony, satire and sarcasm, The Boom Jennies’ real triumph lies in the characterisation.  Within a mere few lines each character is very clearly introduced and defined.  The director of the group, Daphne, is incredibly highly strung and bossy.  Martin, the only man, thinks he is in charge but allows himself to be pushed around for some cheap female flattery.  And Amelia is only there as she wouldn’t fit in anywhere else.  Then Kate, the only potential new member, turns up.  She is the gap year traveller everyone loves to hate.  Having spent most of her adult life variously chasing whales or living up a tree, she introduces the crew to all the authentic attributes of ethical living: herbal tea, yoga, headbands and soft drugs.  Although Kate is in possession of every cliché to verify her planet saving status, it transpires that she is hiding a guilty secret.

With Kate’s arrival, romantic rivalry and friendship feuds develop.

Suggesting new ways of approaching problems doesn’t go down very well with the more established members of the group.  Neither does the proposal that Amelia stop letting Daphne walk all over her, reportedly making her wear ridiculous costumes and carry out all the dirty work, as Amelia says herself ‘but I do have learning difficulties’.  Tensions within the group rise, leading to a potentially dramatic denouement.

Presented in a small and intimate venue, with little help from lighting, effects or even costume, the result is a little rough around the edges.  In these conditions, the script would have to be strong.  It is impressively so, strengthened further by the comic delivery by all actors, and it is a credit to the team that they achieve so much with so little.  But this is in fitting with the whole irony of We Want Action, as very little actually happens. Most of the action is reported as a series of tales of failure, making for some quick-witted wordplay.

Without gimmicks or in-jokes, the awkward characters provide puns aplenty in this refreshingly straightforward satire.  The Boom Jennies are anything but pretentious, as they expose the hypocrisies around the British middle class obsession with ethical living.  Though perhaps not for younger children due to the references to sex and drugs, and the political, wordy jokes that may not be understood, this is a fresh and funny show.  The Boom Jennies are just as they like their fish: raw and refreshing.

Cast credits:  Lizzie Bates – Daphne.  Anna Emerson – Amelia.  Catriona Knox – Kate.  Tom Shepherd – Martin.

Company credits:  Writers – Lizzie Bates and Anna Emerson.  Directors – Lizzie Bates / Anna Emerson / Catriona Knox / Tom Shepherd.

Claire Higgins 2010

Reviewed Thursday 19th August 2010

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