Sunday, July 14

Is This Thing On? – Contact Theatre, Manchester

Is This Thing On? Was written by Megan Keaveny and Ellie Campbell and follows flat mates Mary and Liz, a musician and a poet, as they battle over integrity, ownership, the spotlight and who’s turn it is to buy the f*king toilet roll. It is MissMatch’s debut into the theatre scene.

The pair has clear chemistry, great energy and pace throughout. Their friendship feels believable, and some funny moments pepper their description of sexual exploits as they are introduced. There are ambitious choices made with the use of loop pedals and music, movement and spoken word.

However, this is a story that lacks purpose and focus. Too much, and yet too little is tackled, and while the story tries to tackle serious and weighty themes along with personal conflict, the result is unfortunately muddied and confused. 

The conflict that unfolds between the main characters doesn’t quite ring true, and the characters feel underdeveloped, often making out-of-character choices. The writing feels too on-the-nose and we are told what we should be thinking and feeling, rather than being left space and trust to interpret what is happening ourselves.

Most of all, I felt that for a play that centres feminism as a main theme, I was disappointed that it made little effort to excavate beyond the surface and had little to offer in terms of thinking deeply about gender other than self-love platitudes and the sacredness of personal choice. I wish that the group had spent more time researching feminism, delving into hard topics, and had worked with more diverse voices and narratives, as this performance unfortunately failed to meet the mark of bolder theatre in this genre that has come before.

Reviewer: Bo Warner

Reviewed: 17th April 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.