Enter the space to a shadow puppet mermaid dancing serenely across a shower curtain: the quiet before the storm, as moments later Holly&Ted’s retelling of the Little Mermaid bursts in to action.
Pond Wife is a tongue-in-cheek journey back to the 90s, Holly&Ted (Aka Holly Norrington and Teddy Lamb) take a whopping slice of pop-culture from their own teenage years and serve it up with a side order of C’est la vie – much to the audiences delight. Based loosely around the story of the Little Mermaid, by Hans Christian Andersen, (without giving too much away), they’ve ditched the idea of the handsome prince in a joyful twist, which is a refreshing take on the formulaic fairy-tales we are so often offered.
An assumption is made that the audience are familiar with the story of the Little Mermaid, and as long as you are, Teddy’s performance as the Sea Witch, delivering a dramatic speech to the mermaid- told using only lyrics from 90s pop songs, will likely have you stitches.
In terms of set, they use only a bath tub, a shower curtain and a bit of theatrical magic. Norrington’s physicality was fabulous and their imagining of her travelling across the seas is probably the most simple, yet (astonishingly) effective thing I have witnessed on the fringe yet this year! They issue an ongoing invitation for their audience to lean in and dream with them (though be weary, lean in too far and you certainly risk getting a face full of glitter. No bad thing in my book.)
If you were a 90s child you will probably, almost definitely fall a little bit in love with this show. You will delight in recognising the cultural references and in remembering the things you’d forgotten ever existed – and in the midst of all that – the realisation born from sweet hindsight that the 90s ended with a hard smack in the face from feminism – smashing the illusion of Girl Power, and bringing forth something with a little more integrity. Thank goodness.
Even if you were already an adult by the 90s, as long as you were remotely in touch with pop-culture, you’ll probably also enjoy this show. If you’re a child now, some of it may go over your head, but there are plenty of other juicy bits and funny jokes to keep you entertained. A family of five sitting near me (a range of ages, from really-quite-small to rather-large) laughed throughout, different moments appealing to their different senses of humour.
It’s a great piece and has given me a hunger see more work created by Holly&Ted, to witness their style develop, come in to it’s own, and offer something a bit different to everything else.
Catch it on at the Oxford Fire Station 22nd May and 6th June 2015. Booking and more info here.
(C) Amie Taylor @spoonsparkle 2015