Tuesday, April 23

Katherine and Pierre – Hope Street Theatre

A fast and lively ride through the many shades of love and passion, blended on a cheerful palette of music, clowning, mime, drag, and queerness, well and truly served through its impactful choreography. Bringing together an enjoyable fresh piece of original physical theatre which leaves you satisfied and entertained.

Performed and created by TalkSmall, a duo made up of East 15 graduates Bobbie Twaddle and Ellie Begley, we’re introduced to Katherine (Twaddle) and Pierre (Begley), whose story of entanglement is told through the back catalogue of Katy Perry.  Fondly known as the “Queen of Camp”, Perry’s music and aesthetic is emulated nicely by TalkSmall through their bright and bold energetic performance, replicating the fast-paced cheekiness of Perry’s pop hits. Lip synching their way through a plethora of original tracks blended with a variety of reimagining’s of Perry’s work from jazz style to classical, gives the show enough variety for people who may not be die hard Perry fans. This was welcomed as many of Perry’s songs can tend to sound similar if you’re not a fan.  

There is enough going on here, beyond the concept of the Perry playlist, to be appreciated and enjoyed. Perry’s writing is personal and honest, sometimes sad and tragic, contrasted in its delivery in its upbeat, pop style.  This comedy/tragedy binary is fundamental within the genres of physical performance incorporated by Twaddle and Begley. The gestures, expressions and movement associated with clownery and French mime were complimented well by the drag inspired lip synching and make up.  Universal themes, relatable to everyone, including love, coming of age, sexual liberation and self-empowerment are explored whilst negotiating relationships and the twist and turns of everyday life. There are some genuine laugh out loud moments with both performers displaying spot on comic timing. The use of sound to emulate oral sex and giving birth was funny and clever. 

With a bare stage and backdrop, there is good use of the space with the help of two swivel office chairs, creative use of lighting, soundscapes and the manipulation of the music, successfully create the various locations from a call centre, where Katherine and Pierre first meet, to the bright lights of Las Vegas. The use of audio snippets, derived from popular culture, from TikTok to Friends is included which add to some comedic moments.  However, how these excerpts land with the audience will solely depend on their knowledge and appreciation of the slices used, which will either heighten the experience of the performance or solely be appreciated as a way to move the narrative along. The extended Friends segment was lost on me as, shock horror, despite being in my early forties, have never watched the programme enough to fully appreciate the relevance of the chosen segment.

It is evident that both performers are having a ball, fourth wall absent, the audience is kept engaged with regular clocking and reactions shared directly with the voyeur.  You can’t help but smile at the watchable chemistry of Twaddle and Begley as they dance their way through track after track, the skill, stamina and strength are impressive as they succeed in keeping in sync and avoid losing the nuances within the technicalities of the lifts, twists and turns of the movement.  There are some quieter, softer moments, which were welcomed, and further exploration into some tender moments would have balanced out well.  However, this is a 60-minute breakneck story of falling in and out of love, my energy to watch slightly waned in keeping up, but was quickly snapped back.  

This production is looking at making its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe, where it’s vibrant personality will do well to stand out at the festival.  If you’re going, make it part of your schedule as you won’t be disappointed.   

You can catch Katherine and Pierre at The Bridge House Theatre, London, from the 16th – 20th May 2023, tickets available from https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/penge/the-bridge-house-theatre/katherine-pierre/e-jezjmp

Or catch them at the Edinburgh Fringe this August https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/katherine-and-pierre  

Reviewer: Gill Lewis

Reviewed: 15th April 2023

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★