Image courtesy of Callum Pope.
The Hen Party at Bedlam Theatre.
The Hen Party is a thoroughly entertaining short play that features six female characters from various Shakespeare plays: Juliette (Romeo and Juliette), Lady Macbeth (Macbeth), Sylvia (Two Gentlemen of Verona), Bianca and Catherine (The Taming of the Shrew) and Portia (The Merchant of Venice). The meeting of these seven women provides much ground for their differences to be passionately and humorously explored.
The play is kept short and sweet, and the audience is left yearning for more. The play is an original writing by Caitlin Powell, who includes the occasional memorable Shakespeare quote for comic effect. There is only one character who is not from Shakespeare: Alice, the bride for whom the hen party is being thrown.
The entire play is performed in one room, where the women sit around a table drinking wine from pink cocktail glasses. The consistent chemistry and energy between the six Shakespearean women is highly engaging to observe. Before the show begins the women are seen drunkenly gossiping and bickering around the table and this – alongside the dramatic, angry and impassioned exchanges that make up the performance – gives a well-thought out, entertaining performance.
The actresses are all strong performers; Catherine and Bianca, the two sisters in The Taming of the Shrew with their notoriously opposing personalities, deserve particular commendation. Bianca appears to be whiny, self-absorbed and childish, whilst Cat has a dry wit that stands in stark contrast. Together they create an acutely humorous and witty exchange which, somewhat inevitably, results in an argument. Juliet also played well, the victim of many a joke for her age (sixteen) and early marriage.
The play is extremely enjoyable and aside from its obvious humour, also deserves commendation for its success in bringing such established and well-loved characters to life. It is a night of fast-paced wit and bawdy humour that is to be recommended.