Somewhere, in a dark shipping container on the outskirts of the Fringe, you may find yourself surrounded by fidgety strangers, a mixed crowd of hipsters and youngsters, when Cyndi Lauper’s undying anthem to girls everywhere breaks the silence. Suddenly, out come two women (or girls?), each with a comically long wig covering their faces and a set of pantomime red lips affixed to their forearms. It’s weird to begin with, but then they start singing. They dance along to the music, moving their lips as would a mouth. The song ends, everyone is laughing, and out from beneath their wigs come Celeste Dring and Freya Parker, smiling and endearingly bubbly, together forming the double act Lazy Susan.
Over the revolving course of an hour, it’s impossible not to girl crush, and indeed, if there were ever two people you’d want to befriend, it’s them – especially if karaoke is involved. That feeling of cosy female camaraderie carries the entirety of the sketch show. “This is a safe space,” they cox in their introduction. “Here, we are just going to have fun and forget about gender for an hour. Is that okay? Can we just have a laugh for once?” To their credit, you cash in on that promise and then some, in an afternoon that feels like a booze-free happy hour spent catching up on an older, wiser sisterhood.
Yet, despite their feigned insistence otherwise, gender is front and centre in each one of the forthcoming sketches. Their approach might be silly, but the duo deftly tap into deep-seated fears that many young women harbour today, like pressure to be paired off by a certain age lest she be suspected of some clandestine tick which would explain her singledom. It goes from there, starting off with a few “appetisers” before the “mains,” building in depth and insight, from a comically trite portrayal of French women as envisioned by men to a conversation between two sentimental thieves about to attack a woman. Violence against women is an undercurrent that Lazy Susan doesn’t let up on. It’s interspersed between sketches as Freya works through a looming anxiety that a man is stalking the show, then revealing childhood incident that left her looking over her shoulder. It’s hyperbolic, but darkly precise.
This duality between levity and darkness strums a harmonious chord with the crowd, eliciting laughs along with empathy. The men, for their part, are likely to respond with an emphatic ‘no!’ when asked if they were afraid of powerful women. Lazy Susan engenders a clear and authoritative femininity that can turn on a dime for improv comedy. At the very least, it’s the most fun you’re likely to have in a shipping container.
Lazy Susan: Forgive Me, Mother!
Assembly George Square Theatre – The Box (Venue 8)
Until 27 August
Image: Assembly Festival