Ashling Findlay-Carroll reviews Scary Shit, Beards Beards Beards and Stories to Tell in the Middle of the Night.
Scary shit **
There is no denying that the subject matter of this piece is important and something the two performers are passionate about sharing; their energy is high throughout and they are unfaltering despite the close proximity to their audience. There are some tight, well-choreographed movement sequences and the pair are dynamic movers, which is interesting to watch.
The issue is that the confessional style at times feels a little self-indulgent. There are some brave moments which have a raw honesty about them, but the show would benefit from the eyes of a dramaturg to provide some objectivity and distance for the autobiographical material in the piece.
Beards, Beards, Beards ***
Full of lighthearted and amusing songs and beard puns aplenty, this is an uplifting tale about a little girl who wants to be taken seriously, believing that in order to do that she must have a beard.
The set—a Barbershop—is simple but effective and provides cover for the multiple costume changes as the three-strong cast represent the historical characters that are met along the search for a beard. The performers are highly competent singers, the action moves along swiftly and the script is feel-good with plenty of adult-friendly references. A fun show with a positive message and a little something for everyone.
Stories to Tell in the Middle of the Night ****
With a voice like melted chocolate, Francesca Millican-Slater soothes her audience and transports us to the middle of the night. It really doesn't matter that it's 10:15am, as she begins to weave her web of stories: it could be any time.
Presented as a late night radio show, it is simple in structure, but nothing is lost by the choice to forgo the conventions of the traditional play. Instead we listen to stories of those anxieties that creep up on us, those middle of the night worries, the things we might all think and fear and the ways we get through them.
At its core, this is a show about people, how we can connect with each other and how we often don’t. The solo performer is engaging, and although the piece is text-heavy it doesn't feel like hard work. Millican-Slater’s radio show provides a connection for those without one, and I could listen to her tell me stories for hours.