Review: Words and Women, The Street (Venue 239)

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The half-dozen short monologues comprising this PBH Free Fringe show from London company Skyers Productions were originally written to address the dearth of strong contemporary audition pieces for female actors.

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They’re certainly a varied bunch, introducing us to women as different as a sozzled control-freak waitress on the eve of her wedding (portrayed by Lauren Ions, written by Vanessa Fergus), a child abuse survivor (Katriona Brown/Stephanie Fynn) a stalker whose fantasies spiral tragically out of control (Queen Allen/Charlene Skyers), and a schizophrenic teenager (Abreem Azam/Helen Comerford).

They vary equally in quality, from the quick fire vividness and virtuosity with which Comerford and especially Azam portray a smart, mouthy 16-year-old not only hearing voices but arguing with them as she tells us her story, to the unenlightening howl of pain and fury which is the gist of Fynn’s piece, Cool Uncle Andrew. Ions’s expertly detailed comic performance is partly undermined by her somewhat schematically-drawn character, while the tale of Allen and Skyers’s stalker is too implausibly broad-brushed to induce either laughter or sympathy.

There is some excellent writing and acting here, but the format tends to preclude sufficient depth or sense of context for either women or words to attain full dramatic life.

Until 25 August. Today 5:15pm.