Penny Arcade: Longing Lasts Longer
Star rating: ***
Soho Theatre – Below
Review date: Saturday 21st November 2015
Penny Arcade has a lot she wants to get off her chest. You might have gathered that by the promotional photo for her run at Soho Theatre Below! However, notwithstanding her obvious distractions, it’s what’s going on in her mind that is upper most in this show. So much so, that what was meant to be a 60 minute show ran over by 30 minutes!! Not good when there are other shows to follow in the room and elsewhere in the venue for attendees to see! It meant my colleague and I missed the opening to South African comedian Loyiso Gola’s show, on at the very same theatre!
Funnily enough, not only were both overseas performers doing their final shows before returning to their homelands, USA and South Africa respectively, they both had jokes about cakes in their set. Penny joked of cup cakes and the increase in cup cake shops, whilst Gola ruminated on hot cakes! Penny’s point was about the gentrification of cities like London. Although she is from New York she is very familiar with London as a regular visitor to our shores. She considered cities to be losing their soul when gentrification takes a hold. This tied in with the ‘love, longing and loss’ theme of the show. She has a point and we’ve seen a loss of the buzz and excitement certain areas like Brixton had thanks to gentrification, or areas all over the country where major supermarkets have muscled into streets and areas of town they do not normally habitate in. Brixton of course hasn’t entirely lost its buzz, for there is still a certain something about the area, but it can happen.
Shepherds Bush has it but you could imagine if it were to lose its famous market (the local council wish to demolish it and replace it with houses) it would lose a real sense of what has always been the heartbeat of Shepherds Bush.
Political Correctness and mind control
She was exercised by political correctness and group control by the mass media who want everyone to think the same. She didn’t use the following example, but one would be to consider how, following the recent Paris attacks, the state (Britain/France/USA to name but three countries) want us ALL to think the same. Think that we are at war with and should go to war with ISIS. They want the public to buy into their notion that there’s is the only solution, the only sensible option available as a response.
To back up her independence of thought, Penny revealed that she went through a stage of not watching television for 40 years. Therefore she feels unencumbered and un-influenced by television and marketing. There’s something to be said for talking to people, travelling and doing your own research on subjects.
She attacked the media and society at large for buying into the myth of attaining perpetual youth. I liked the slightly tongue in cheek way she did that, with a cheeky nod to her tight, black dress and overall appearance! That’s fine. She danced and bounced around the stage with wild abandon and that was great to see she was having fun, whilst being serious too. She encouraged the audience to join in on occasion too.
She made no bones about not being a spring chicken and good for her. If anything her message is to forge your own path and career based on your talent and not to worry about anyone being younger or more beautiful. Such things are transient. She’s all about being authentic and how people would be better of identifying and just being their authentic selves.
After a slow start where I wasn’t sure where this was going – she said it’s not cabaret, stand up or performance art, the viewer had to figure out for themselves what this was. It was a performance that was in parts funny, part thought provoking monologue (well mainly that), part dance, music and part entertainment. The intervention of relevant pieces of music from the past 30 years or so was great to hear as it dovetailed neatly with the stories she was telling.
Even the occasional “senior moments” when she forgot a word or where she was in her train of thought were amusing. Thankfully her DJ was on hand to bail her out on such occasions.
Penny for your thoughts? There were plenty of those presented for the audience to mull over. At 90 minutes it was too long and maybe a tight 60 minutes, as planned, would have been better. As I said at the top, she had a lot to get off her chest and on her last night in London, nobody was going to stop Penny Arcade getting it all out.
Review © Tiemo Talk of the Town
- Loyiso Gola: Tall Tales review – 25th November 2015
- Is political correctness killing comedy and free speech? Tiemo article – 12th November 2015
- Tiemo Entertainments Funny Ha Ha on-line store
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