After three weeks of female-led productions with all-female playwrights, the Who Runs The World? festival closes at the King's Head Theatre. Editor Daniel Perks rounds up the shows:

The King’s Head Theatre has had an exceptional 2018 so far. They won an Off West End Award for their 2017 opera Tosca, they were nominated for an Olivier Award with their Trafalgar Studios transfer of La Bohème was nominated, and their hit show Trainspotting Live! celebrated its 800th performance during its run at The Vaults. But not only that, they have just completed a highly successful female-playwriting festival, Who Runs The World?, for which Miro were proud to be the official media partner.

Who Runs World King's Head Theatre

Louisa Davis, Senior Producer, King’s Head Theatre

Senior Producer Louisa Davis programmed the Who Runs The World? festival for three weeks in response to the under-representation of female voices on stage,

“Why is it that female voices are struggling to be heard? Why is it that the people who can influence these decisions don’t actively open doors and be part of a positive change? There seems to be an assumption, from some high profile statements made on the issue, that ‘there aren’t enough good female writers’ or that ‘they won’t make enough money at the box office’ – when did this become gospel? Why don’t we challenge these assumptions?”

Headlined by Sarah Milton‘s Tumble Tuck (after its successful run at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017), Who Runs The World? also included a series of week-long runs by writers Laura McGrady and Daisy King, as well as one-night works in progress by Natasha Brown and Paperclip Theatre.

Read below for our round-up of the festival:


Tumble Tuck

Headliner for Who Runs The World? festival. Review by Camille LaPaix.

Tumble Tuck King's Head Theatre

Sarah Milton (image courtesy of Alex Brenner)

Written by and starring Sarah Milton, Tumble Tuck examines what success means to Daisy, a young woman. It embarks on a journey, from women’s relationships – with their mothers, first loves, best friends and bodies – to mental health, illustrated by a chlorine-scented powerhouse of a performance.

Milton’s narrative ingeniously weaves in body image and the mere experience of taking up space, through Daisy’s self-consciousness of jiggly legs, flat arms and non-petiteness. As you reach the end of your journey in the King’s Head Theatre, you find yourself faced with a Daisy who empowered herself and grew on her own. It is her race and she isn’t changing – not her name, not her home, not her body, not herself – for anyone.  Tumble Tuck leaves the audience longing to look for their closest pool to embark of such a voyage of self-discovery for themselves.

★★★★★


Baby Box

Week-long production for Who Runs The World? festival. Review by Daniel Perks.

Baby Box Who Runs The World King's Head Theatre

Babybox by Laura McGrady

These girls are white and British, they’ve won nature’s lottery. They almost score the jackpot, but no penis. Laura McGrady’s writing instantly reminds us that we are the privileged, so life will be good. Except, with a faulty Baby Box, it inevitably doesn’t turn out that way.

For her debut as a playwright, McGrady’s writing feels mature, successfully layering concept upon concept to maximise impact throughout the show. Sarah Cullum is given a gift of a part, reinforced by Helena Jackson’s clear and concise direction. There is no doubt as to the vision in Baby Box, a series of sibling interactions that are framed by monologues and phone conversations to stave off any monotony.

The strength of this piece is in the inner workings of its creative team, three individuals so in sync that the overarching production presents itself with assurance and identity – it’s the kind of connection that you stereotypically expect from siblings. But Baby Box reminds us that such stereotyping sets us up for failure – no one is perfect, no relationship is flawless.

★★★★☆


NoF*cksGiven

Week-long production for Who Runs The World? festival. Review by Cindy Marcolina.

Who Runs The World King's Head Theatre

NoF*cksGiven by Daisy King

Daisy King pens a vulnerable piece that sees Stacy grappling with the pain of living a life gone wrong. She hides her homelessness by lying about having problems with her pipes at home, she celebrates addiction and embraces the chaos of her world by disguising her scars. King unravels Stacy bit by bit and lets her audience put her backstory together on their own.

The three actors (Phoebe Thomas, Velile Tshabalala & Gaz Hayden) juggle the poignancy of the matter with ease. When Stacy’s inner monologue halts the narrative altogether, the actors freeze and the audience move inside the young woman’s mind. NoF*cksGiven shows a lot of potential, and a full-length version of it can most definitely be a game-changing piece of theatre.

★★★☆☆


Everything I Am

Work-in-progress for Who Runs The World? festival.

Who Runs The World King's Head Theatre

Everything I Am by Natasha Brown

It is so like Natasha Brown to try and out-oppress, according to her friend in Nandos anyway. A queer, female, black woman, Brown instantly highlights that she ticks all of the diversity boxes and wonders why there aren’t more role models that she can look up to. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of work to do.

As a young woman, Brown gets the pressures of growing up and narrates with affable ease. There is intelligence in the material for Everything I Am, seemingly throwaway comments about the others doing the othering, or about white people not caring about black bodies. They are flippantly delivered and as such, hard-hitting. We laugh along with Brown’s comedy, until we suddenly stop when we realise just what we are chuckling about.

Everything I Am is not finished. But maybe that’s because we are never finished in becoming everything we want or hope to be. Like us all, Brown is becoming everything she is by the natural process of discovery. This show is one that will continue to evolve and shape as it further develops.


Voices From The Deep

A night of shorts for Who Runs The World? festival. Covered by Ed Nightingale.

Who Runs The World King's Head Theatre

Voices From The Deep night of shorts

Paperclip Theatre are an all-female theatre company who put women’s stories at the centre of their work. Voices From The Deep presents simply a series of original monologues that highlight the injustice of women throughout history. Each is written in Shakespearean blank verse with plenty of references to The Bard’s work.

Women are unfairly compared; their legacy is misremembered or undervalued; they harbour only hysteria and jealousy for one another; they lack control over their own lives. Each of the monologues touches on these themes with biting satire, farcical comedy, and melancholy. Performed by an assured cast of female actors with great clarity, the evening provides plenty of comedy with its Shakespearean references and silliness. Yet beneath it all is a serious and poignant social message – the show does just enough to provoke thought long after the laughter subsides.

 

 

For more information about the King’s Head Theatre, visit the venue website.