FACEHUNTERS

Wed 7th – Sat 17th August 2013

reviews

Georgina Wilson

at 10:05 on 11th Aug 2013

2agrees

0disagrees

“Go on then, take my fucking picture” said Dorian Grey in a well-known novel by Oscar Wilde. Alright I lie, it’s actually said by the character Juliette (Flick Bartlett) in the riotous, sexy, stomping, club-night that is the start of 'Facehunters'. But the plot of eternal youth encapsulated in an image is there, with the added twist that the two girls in the photograph must “stay together” to stay young. Hmmm… define “stay together”. Apparently some faithless on-stage kissing with another girl and hints of a fully-consummated relationship are fine, but, being a musical (it’s not actually a club-night, by the way, although the first half would only need the already-enthused audience to jump to their feet and join in with some Gangnam Style to cross the line) there has to be a one-hour build up to a moment of catastrophe.

This merge of edginess and cliché is where 'Facehunters' just occasionally gets lost in itself. Some of the most sexually charged and intimate scenes I’ve ever seen on stage were played out between the three “heroines” (admittedly there aren’t any heroines/heroes or even baddies in 'Facehunters' unless you include the word that triggers one of many angry songs. Something – something – U – G – S…. Slugs? Thugs? Oh. Drugs. Of course. Drugs are possibly the only thing in their “hipstahhhh” lifestyles without any redeeming features). But hipsters aren’t Mean Girls, and the moment when the girl-in-the-middle of the love triangle, Katherine (Laura Johnson) makes her old flame Juliette leave a party alone it suddenly feels less like edge-cutting comment on modern-day society and more like yet another regurgitation of the sad old stereotype that girls can be bitchy, bitchy creatures.

Occasional plot weakness aside, the acting and the sheer crowd-cutting stage presence of the two leads is undeniable. The whole cast are initially frozen on stage, apparently equal in an indistinguishable mish-mash of fishnets, ripped Tees, and heavy make-up. Almost instantly Juliette and Katherine make their deserved mark: back in mannequin mode at the end of the play we wonder how we could have missed their razor-like stares from amongst the rest.

That said, the whole company are well-rehearsed and talented singers and dancers. One of the few slow songs, “Under Spanish Skies”, creates a much-needed contrast so the other raspy, lyric-filled, semi-spoken numbers. It’s a recipe for Lloyed-Webber-esque soppy disaster – or would be if the whole audience weren’t so far in by this point that we are practically swaying in our seats, choking back the emotional sobs of a partied-out alcohol-infused hipstahhh. It’s not a vapid club-scene that you’ve paid for after all, but an unforgettable and exhilarating night out.

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Emily Brearley-Bayliss

at 11:03 on 11th Aug 2013

1agrees

1disagrees

The fact that the title has the guts to present itself in block capitals is stunningly telling of the explosion of make up, drama, sexual desire and catchy music that is ‘FACEHUNTERS’. Perhaps the most indie thing to hit the Fringe (and that’s saying something), this roller coaster ride of both comedy and drama made me want to dip-dye my hair, get a piercing my parents would loathe, dance all night and listen to music that you’ve probably never heard of.

The in-your-face songs, devised by Graham Mercer, were catchy, punchy and swear-y, the kind of songs that make buying musical soundtracks seem like a cool thing to do. I’m sure eager-to-please character Dicko would rave about how “trendy and grimy and edgy” they are, and were performed by all cast members with flawless vocals and exciting choreography. Comedy and satire (which are, of course, very in right now) were used hilariously to mock today’s ‘hipster’ culture and the East London ‘scene’, which worships the idea of eternal youth, constant partying and being cool beyond reason. A certain irony could be found in the fact that the cast, each one of them young, cool and stunningly beautiful, embodies the exact culture they portray so disparagingly.

However, underneath the illusion of everyone having the time of their lives, deeper and much more serious themes were uncovered. The tragic death of Sweetie (Charlotte Mary Ward) revealed the much more sinister side of today’s rave culture, the constant longing for real happiness among a sea of superficiality. Drug dependency, heart-break and friendships being pushed to their limits meant that, where before I had to restrain myself from leaping up to join in with the dancing, I was deeply moved. The love triangle between Katherine (Laura Johnson), Juliette (Flick Bartlett) and Lily (Luci Fish) was a seething mess of sexual tension, tenderness, anguish and anger, which was played brilliantly by all three performers and was entirely convincing.

The filthy lyrics, and topical references made this a play obviously aimed at the younger generation. If you don’t know the significance of the “gap yah” and the fact that “ain’t nobody got time for that” (Youtube it), you may not be among the intended audience, but the energy and commitment shown by both the cast and the live band throughout made it a spectacle that anyone can enjoy. All in all, the dip-dye, Dr Martins and metallic leggings, this crazy cacophony of ‘Skins’ meets ‘We Will Rock You’, was an incredible success, and I think it is safe to say that everybody had a roaringly good time.

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