I’d seen Little Women before. I’d seen Jo, Amy, Meg and Beth laugh and cry, run through the snow, give away their breakfast, simper over their mother, and pursue their aspirations in several iterations.
Some of those had their surprises – Emma Watson’s version of an American accent was a particularly unpleasant example – but never before had I witnessed the March sisters take turns smashing an ice sculpture of a penis with a hammer and chisel like a slippery piñata, before making the remnants into an enormous margarita and drinking the entire thing.
Figs in Wigs’ production of Little Wimmin, a satirical take on the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott, is delightfully ludicrous from beginning to end.
Alice Roots, Sarah Moore, Suzanna Hurst, Rachel Gammon and Rachel Porter have masterfully pieced together a show that is sure to make you laugh until you ache.
The production has an intriguing structure. A short first half consists of what is essentially a five-person stand-up routine (except they’re floating in cloud-hats made of cotton wool, because why wouldn’t they be) which sets up a lot of jokes to follow and provides some essential explanation.
Then, after a brief interval, the Little Women parody begins. At first hilarious but relatively straightforward, it gradually descends into absurdity and then inexplicable mayhem. Quite frankly, it’s a joy to behold.
I didn’t know that I needed a tree, a horse, a nose, a glove and a corpse dancing and lip-syncing to Driving Home For Christmas in my life, for instance, but it turns out I really, really did.
Thematically, we are told that this production is about climate change, and that is suitably shoe-horned in at every turn, but it’s also about feminism and destroying the patriarchy – the freesheet informs us, “No men were harmed or paid in the making of this production.”
Oh, and it’s about limes. There are many limes.
The costumes, by Rachel Gammon, Emma Bailey and Saskia Martindale, are ridiculous perfection and a vital part of why this production is so special. The lighting (Gene Giron) and sound (Suzanna Hurst and Alicia Turner) effortlessly pull everything together.
Little Wimmin is also refreshingly inclusive. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I have no problem judging a play by its audience, and theirs was a wonderfully eclectic array of colourful people.
This was a ‘Relaxed’ performance, meaning that all are invited to make noise, move around, tick, leave and take time in a chill out zone whenever they wish. The energy in the room was noticeably different, a warm buzz.
It’s a wonderful, confusing, bizarre two hours. I haven’t laughed that much in a long, long time.
Figs in Wigs are performing until 28 October in the Grand Hall of the Battersea Arts Centre, Clapham. Tickets are Pay What You Can as part of BAC’s OverCome autumn season. The performance on Saturday 23 October will be BSL interpreted and Monday 25 October will be socially distanced. Age guidance is 12+.
Featured image credit: Jemima Yong