Curiosity on what a Botox party is, the need for a good laugh and a girly evening out has made me return to the Bread & Roses Theatre for The Real Housewives Of Codswallop by Lisa Gaye Wright. The title does not hide what type of TV programs it refers to: Either the viewers’ guilty pleasure or pet hate, these product placement powered blond-as-a-lifestyle formats of suburban glamour soap operas are ridiculously successful. Internationally. For folks like me, who are only very occasional witnesses of all the non-drama (usually when I cannot find the remote control and no longer than the next ad break), the random achievement of loud pastel colours by some equally paradox female himbos is their biggest achievements. Given that many parodies are indeed better than the original, I am ready for some laugh-out comedy.
At her house, Majenta (Nick Duncombe) hosts the welcome committee for an acquaintance who is having something done – the excitement is about being the amongst those to inspect the result first. Laughing away those who decline the invitation and blocking the numbers of those visitors not desired (that happening far too early to the whiniest caller ever is a missed chance of repetitive laughter), finally old frenemy Tam (Terri Spencer) arrives with her new bestie Sophia (Monika Brodowska). Impersonating every Essex girl cliché imaginable, for these wannabe socialites, life is a never-ending glamour trash hen do, decorated with oversized pearls and everything shiny. There is lots of bitching and bickering between the three high-heeled drama queens, whose only idea of vulgar is the consumption of food. Naturally none is offered, no matter how many bottles of vodka-spiked wine are emptied. I learn that an old wisdom goes: No carbs before Marbs. Bookshelves, similarly rare in their circles, are for the more contemplating selfies on their journey of self-focused entrepreneurship.
What unites the trio is their shared hate and fear of the old arch enemy twins age and body fat, concealed as good as possible as are their physical and societal roots. Their own manicured reality is scripted with dreamed up adventures of sponsored coats and a possible duet with Aldi’s Christmas hero Kevin the Carrot. Ambitions for some. The only way is… it does not matter, but it surely sparkles. The second part of this three-person musical is much stronger and indeed all audience members have returned after the interval, now clearly warmed up: While I am still not convinced of the need for every song performed, I see plenty of knees moving along. There is potential for much more bite and for far more drama here, for conspiracy and treason, even though that might not be true to the shallow originals. And whoever curated the costumes on stage deserves a mentioning clearly. Please don’t forget to tag the brands. Laters, haters.
*** out of 5 stars
The Real Housewives Of Codswallop was written by Lisa Gaye Wright and played after a first staging at the Theatre at the Tabard at the Bread & Roses Theatre until 8 February.