Kat Rose-Martin’s Pick N Mix at The Pleasance

After a long, busy and grey January, comedy is what’s needed, and the Pleasance Theatre has not let me down so far when in need of mid-week laughs. Gladly, the trend to start one-act plays at 7pm continues – London’s theatre-affine commuters living outside the Underground network, desired more of this long before Covid. The price for this is the random food court scent during the performance; the Pleasance collaborates with a local pizza delivery which visitors are welcome to start on out of the box once taken their seats. The couple next to me brought a bag of fish ‘n chips from the chippy between here and Caledonian Underground Station, others well-prepared and probably still in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, unpack salads and reusable cutlery. I for my part was happy with the first pre-show Aperol Spritz of the year, while inspecting the lobby’s library upstairs (sourcing Bertold Brecht, George Orwell, Alfred Hitchcock and Judi Dench).

Charlotte Ellis and Natalie Davies as sisters Kim and Olivia

On the downstairs auditorium’ stage candy-coloured palettes are arranged, Miami beats blast: The scene is set for small town Love Island aficionados without fear that certain garden trends might not survive another summer. Kat Rose-Martin’s debut is set around two sisters co-habiting: One runs a corner shop, the other is still in school uniform, and while identifying as lesbian, very interested in her flirty best friend’s Tinder account. Accidently, all three get pregnant by the same guy within a short distance of time. Scenes of lunchbreak sex, girly porn reviews, collective pregnancy tests and unexpected food deliveries are very funny indeed, and after a day of corporate blabla, a very welcome reminder that life should be about love and fun and caring for each other.

But as life is never only just hilarious, a trigger warning, hung out before we entered the theatre, announces a miscarriage (spoiler feels like a very wrong word in this case). No one wishes that sadness to anyone, also not to a teenage schoolgirl whose well-meant condom-pulling sex education is scheduled in the curriculum far too late. Between leopard-print fanny bags, polyester flares and sofa hoodies, this 75 minute long play achieves to be mouthy and mindful at the same time – not only on this week’s Time To Talk day, dedicated to invite people to talk about mental health nationwide. Its consequence to be entirely played in North English accents even here in the capital, adds to that authenticity (raising the presence of local accents is what theatre companies like Shybairn have been advocating for, and talking about them, the Vault Festival is back this year and already running – more to come here soon). The cast of five is fabulous and give Pick N Mix the seriousness this bittersweet comedy deserves. I leave with an appetite for marshmallows from that big jar on stage, with a strong desire to munch them out of a striped paper bag full of other penny sweets on a bus stop. Of course, I pop into the corner shop opposite the Pleasance when leaving.

More to discover in the Pleasance Theatre’s foyer library next time!

**** out of 5 stars

Pick N Mix, written by Kat Rose-Martin played at the Pleasance Theatre until 4 February, tickets £12.

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