25th November 2014
Produced by: The Paper Birds
More information on the Alnwick Playhouse website
The Paper Birds’ production of is designed to challenge the relationship between the British public and alcoholic beverages. From the moment the lights went down, the performance provoked a host of interesting questions. These included : 1. why do people drink? 2. What do they hope to achieve? And 3. If I sink this far down into my seat, will I avoid being selected for audience participation?
If you were wondering the answer to question three , then no, I will not avoid that. The performance begins with the characters of ‘Kinky Kylie’ and ‘Juicy Jemma’ exploding from on-stage toilet cubicles, professing their undying love for each other and daring each other to ‘get their tits out.’ Before long they have invaded the crowd, instructing startled teenage boys to write their phone numbers across their skin and enthusiastically posing for a range of photographs with audience members wondering, “Don’t we need to sign legal documents for this kind of thing?”
However, this ice cold plunge into the depths of terrifying merriment soon warms up. A series of recordings begin to play, featuring a range of unfamiliar voices discussing their perceptions of drunk women. Synonyms for ‘annoying’ and ‘embarrassing’ are thrown around like confetti, and the performance begins to take a slightly uneasy turn.
The audience are not left in the dark for too long, as the girls return to the stage and both drop their initial intoxicated persona. They really are Jemma (last name McDonnell) and Kylie (Walsh), they explain, and they really are best friends. The remaining toilet cubicle is also opened, revealing their other friend Shane (Durrant), who is promptly instructed to put his trousers back on. He is confined to the toilet seat throughout the narrative, providing music and some hilarious one liners.
They continue to say that they conducted researched for the compilation of this project : a blog; a questionnaire; a drunken hotline. They asked for stories and drunk dials, they received amusement and shock. The performance intertwines this within a range of tales of the friendship they formed at university, the host of individuals they wanted to represent and the story of one girl who just would not stop calling.
It combines sadness, happiness, humour, and stomach twisting discomfort. It takes you through the highs and lows of getting drunk, aided by the glasses of ‘alcohol’ decorating every inch of the stage’s perimeter. Jemma and Kylie’s performance transcends from sober to drunk flawlessly as they consume them, with the final drops leaving them collapsing onto the floor like rag dolls. I grew to wince in pain every time I heard liquid splash against the stage floor, almost too uncomfortable too watch but too engaged to even blink.
Despite my initial reservations about the performances, I ended up clapping so hard my hands still ache and muttering the word ‘fantastic’ under my breath for the following hour.