Grab ’Em By the Pussy – The Space

Grab ’Em By the Pussy was reviewed at The Space, London (the show also runs at The Monkey House in Camden from 9 to 12 August).

Star rating: three stars ★ ★ ★ ✩ ✩

Writer Caroline Buckley has penned a comic-surreal response to President Donald Trump’s ghastly boast to Billy Bush, cousin of former President George W. But it’s not quite the feminist tirade I was expecting it to be – instead, it’s a somewhat dark, unsettling peak into the mind of a young woman confused by the world’s expectations of her.

Alice Wolff-Whitehouse plays the musical’s protagonist Maisy, a student frustrated by a lack of sexual advances.

We first meet her in a deafening nightclub, knocking back shots of vodka bought by a nervous young man (whom we later learn is Ian, played by Alasdair Melrose) attempting to make a pass at her.

While her friends Roxanne (Rachel Loughran) and Jackie (Grace Russell) are fighting off the unwanted – or otherwise – attention of men, Maisy is resigned to a life untouched. What could possibly be wrong with her?

Thus she embarks on a journey of self discovery, learning principally from Roxanne how to get the attention of men. Or, as it’s unsubtly and uncomfortably put, how to get sexually abused or raped by them.

Ian, as it turns out, is a nice fella – gangly, awkward and shy – and just trying to be nice. This, of course, won’t do, and he’s roundly rejected by Maisy who is encouraged by Roxanne to find someone willing to grab her by the titular anatomy.

Someone like the patronising and sleazy US rap star Roland (Jamie Silverthorn). Into this mix is thrown a couple of curveballs – some kind of army recruitment officer desperate to get Maisy to enlist, and the ever-present shadow of Death, who creeps ever closer to our protagonist during scene changes.

This bizarre plotline is played out with the occasional song, and all credit to composer Josh Wells for providing some lovely numbers.

There’s no band – the cast members sing along to backing tracks – but all are strong singers and musically it all works.

The highlight is a (presumably) Cats-inspired dream sequence in which the cast don catsuits for the a cappella ‘Grab ’Em By the Miaow’.

Maisy and Ian also treat us to a fun but seemingly neverending duet where the line “My love is endless, just like this song” is more than apt.

Director Bence Kalo keeps on top of the surrealism, and it’s an entertaining one-acter with enthusiastic and talented performances all round. No faulting the cast. But I suspect I’m not the only one to be left a little confused by the message.

Buckley’s intention of giving “a response to normalisation of female sexualisation” gets lost in the kooky script.

Maisy is a tragic, misguided character – and thanks to Wolff-Whitehouse’s lovely performance, a sympathetic one – and songs like ‘No One Will Let Me Blow Them’ reveal her desperately unhealthy attitude to how a woman should be expected to act.

But I’m not convinced that this is the show that will re-educate women or men. Mind you, it’s a start, and I’m sure this work-in-progress needs just the gentlest of taps to the rudder to get it heading in the right direction.

Craig Glenday

Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

Join the Conversation

Sign up to receive news and updates from Musical Theatre Review

, , , ,

Comments are closed.
Copyright: Musical Theatre Review Ltd 2013. All rights reserved.