Tuesday, March 5

Little Wimmin – Unity Theatre

We’ve all seen warnings on theatre doors regarding theatrical gunfire, haze and flashing lights but when your show starts with an allergen warning for live use of citrus fruits, it’s clear you’re in for something a bit different.

‘Loose adaptation’ doesn’t really cover Figs in Wigs presentation of the Louisa May Alcott classic, Little Women, which instead proves to be possibly one of the most surreal and anarchic pieces of theatre you could ever witness.

If you were to put Mischief Theatre, The Mighty Boosh and London’s army of street performers in a blender, you might come close to the bizarre nature of tonight’s performance.

Our troupe of five, Alice Roots, Sarah Moore, Suzanna Hurst, Rachel Gammon and Rachel Porter, are astutely aware of the modern-day ironies that are laden within the source material and take glorious pleasure in their mockery.

During a whimsical prologue, using a classic but clever street theatre illusion, our ladies float in the clouds to earnestly lay out all the tropes, symbols and themes that they will be taking the audience through, ludicrously linking our classic tome to astrology, climate change and a series of painful cocktail-related puns. It’s a sharply realized, and devilishly funny opening which then leads to a 20minute interval so our ladies can, we are told, get off their high horses.

The main section is comprised of an ‘am-dram’/panto-style ‘reduced Little Women’, resplendent in neon orange set and costumes, as we whizz through the main points of the story – which somehow now includes a sentient, angry Christmas tree.

It is done with note-perfect absurdity, knowing looks and expertly executed comic-timing. There are simply too many moments of lunacy to note, and plenty of ‘did they just…’ moments that blow well-loved literary canon to smithereens.

And then, as they’ve reminded us repeatedly, during bursts of Death Metal, Beth dies, before the gang gleefully jumps the shark, eyes wide open, into a series of bizarre dance routines, an ironically artsy-fartsy video, a pant-wettingly funny Edith Piaf impersonation and a patience-testing sequence to concoct and drink the world’s biggest margherita – including the live juicing of dozens of limes which have just dropped from the ceiling.

The show abruptly ends with an ‘any questions?’ invite to the audience. Oh, there are oh so, so many. Jokes are strangled to within an inch of their life, vodka shots are done off a phallic ice sculpture and someone ‘gives birth’ to a pair of gloves.

Does it make sense? No. Do you come away feeling any deep truth has been teased out? Don’t be silly. Does anyone care? Possibly, but certainly not Figs in Wigs. The chaotic nature may prove too much for some; others may be eyeing the drinks from the bar a bit more suspiciously for signs of hallucinogenic substances, but all would agree it’s been a unique experience that will stick with you for a very long time.

For Figs in Wigs tour dates, visit little wimmin https://www.figsinwigs.com/

Reviewer: Lou Steggals

Reviewed: 28 April 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★