Beaver Forever

Sat 2nd – Sat 16th August 2014

reviews

Georgina Wilson

at 17:17 on 2nd Aug 2014

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In an empty pub in Edinburgh, a fox with an American accent gives advice on getting a feminist protest off the ground. Kate Duffy and Hannah Lee, with the help of tech wing(wo)man Emma Baggott, have created an eclectic mix of songs, raps and a bizarrely misplaced caterpillar-orientated narrative to tell us the story of their battle against sexism.

I was thoroughly expecting to embrace the general “message” of the show, but had some niggling doubts about parts of their agenda. The lines of the “ballad of a feminist whose never been raped” in which contain lyrics about it being “kinda hard to justify everything we say” seemed to be slightly counterintuitive to the feminist message they were putting across.

A burst of electronically-generated energy at the beginning (voice over, bouncy music and a well-shot video) was lost slightly during lacklustre and overtly nerve-wracking introductions of the two-person cast. Things definitely improved as the hour ticked by, the high point being a witty and articulate rap against the clothes company whose sexist advert provided the starting point for the whole show, described as “the whitest thing you have ever seen”.

The show would benefit from deciding whether it is trying to be light-hearted entertainment or thought-provoking satire. It can’t quite pull off both in equal measure, and sometimes introduces threads of the latter only to rush over them in trepidation about their reception. A potential comic gold-mine of a written reply from the clothes company needed more haste and less speed in its delivery: possibly Kate Duffy found greater security in glitzy shows and funny videos than dead beat timing and dry mockery.

Some attempts at audience participation (snog, marry avoid – Scar, Mufusa, Simba: a question that might put us all to thinking for slightly longer than is strictly appropriate in a live show) were a good idea in theory, but again suffered slightly from a lack of perfect confidence from the cast in their own convictions.

The show started with a bang, but struggled to end with any certainty (to be fair to them, the usual technique of fading lights wasn’t an option for the duo in the intimate yet somewhat limited venue of “Pivo”, the Carleton Road Pub). But practice makes perfect, and if this show hones in with more certainty on its target audience, it is bound to do well in the quirky, experimental embrace of the Edinburgh Free Fringe.

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Emily Brearley-Bayliss

at 17:30 on 2nd Aug 2014

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This show had all of the key ingredients for a first rate show at an Arts Festival; political activism, unnecessary costume changes and incongruous musical numbers. Beaver Forever is a two-woman show about fashion, feminism and the furore that advertising can cause, and follows Hannah Lee and Kate Duffy’s desperate attempt to get the attention of the mysoginist(ic), suit-making big-wig Suzie Faux.

In a show that dealt with some very controversial issues, which were clearly close to the two performers’ hearts, humour and irony were routinely deployed and not always to the greatest effect. There is something to the idea of talking about feminism in a way that makes light of, and mocks, the condescending viewpoint of people who disagree with it, but on a lot of occasions the irony was lost.

The opening of the show (which, for some reason involved a video conference with a fox) focused on the common conception that to be a feminist one must have a sob story, and therefore a very good reason to be a feminist. While mocking the idea that they are too privileged to be feminists in ‘The Ballad of the Feminists Who Have Never Been Raped’ the performers lacked that final push of confidence and conviction that would have really brought the point they were making home.

Because feminism is such a complex issue there were a lot of bases to cover and they did it in a way that was slightly too abstract, with small segments of narrative that were, to say the least, slightly odd. A combination of raps, songs, physical comedy, tenuous puns and the reluctant participation of the sparsely populated audience made for a bizarre combination of comedy, factual conversation and a call to action to begin the next feminist revolution.

Performed in a pub, the show had a nice, relaxed vibe, and the pair clearly had a lot of chemistry. Their passion for the subject matter came across well so that although the show was under rehearsed, it was not unpleasant or uncomfortable to watch. The pair had a great connection with the audience, and made us want to help them with their agenda – I only wish they had been more clear as to what that was. A ‘feminist revolution’ is all well and good, but what precisely does that involve? With a bit more practice and a fuller, more enthusiastic audience I have absolutely no doubt that this show will go a long way. A commendable first effort at an Edinburgh show.

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