Boys Club

Sharlit Deyzac and Leonor Lemee

Two Tongue Theatre

Jackson's Lane

On 12 July 2017

Review by Howard Loxton

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The Boys Club boys are in fact girls, but tonight they have got themselves a booking by passing themselves off as a male double act: Jo and Jules. They come bouncing on loaded with fake testosterone to offer a lively send up of macho men with swaggering walk, elbows in air, crutch clutching and loud mouthed bravado then crudely chat up members of the audience.

It’s a delightful caricature, complete with champagne bottle cocks ejaculating over the front rows. (And it’s quite safe to sit there: it's only glitter.) They explain that they are bi-lingual—though you can’t help feeling they mean something else.

The boys then go into a sort of sketch with the more butch but shorter donning a headscarf to play a put-upon housewife who gets bashed about by her husband that morphs into a physical gag where her head becomes a large penis.

When they start to strip off as though to present “The Full Monty”, bloodstained underwear gives the game away. “I cut myself shaving” just isn’t an excuse they can get away with. They admit they are women and explain that actresses don’t get enough work; men get more opportunities and decide to offer a different act.

Pushing in a trolley of costumes and helium balloons, they wash up and change behind it to emerge as caricature women at first still sporting their painted on facial hair. The shorter (Leonor Lemee) turns herself into a blonde-wigged Barbie doll in a multi-layered pink skirt and red high heels. The taller (Sharlit Deyzac) lets down the hair she had tied up in a man bun and slips into a shiny silver lamé number, gold high heels and long gloves—supposedly slinky and sexy, it is a hollow comment, not the real thing.

At first as they totter a little, it as though they are men putting drag on, but ones very accomplished at wiping off beard and moustache without a mirror and applying lipstick and eye shadow. With a little extra clean-up of each other, the change is complete and they offer a caricature of female stereotypes like that of their male duo.

Now there’s a problem. This isn’t the show they were contracted to do. The management accept the change but are cutting their fee. A women’s act gets one-third less. That’s the cue for a rebellion, though even with enthusiastic bellows of support from the audience the bosses won’t budge and the supposedly sophisticated lady shows her true mettle with explosive action.

Director Peta Lily, with whom the performers devised their show, seems to have encouraged sharp definition in the presentation of gender but the rest is more crazy clowning than satire and too much is played using hand-mikes that are not handled effectively, distorting dialogue. The nub of the show is clearly intended to be a critique of gender (in)equality and a comparison of sexual commodification but much of the time it relies for its humour on zany silliness. That did get lots of laughs from an indulgent audience but it should hit a lot harder. Its script—both physical and verbal—could dig deeper and, though the actors go through the actions of connecting with the audience, if they are going to behave like stand-ups they could be more responsive and build on what they get from the audience.

Boys Club was presented as part of Postcards 17, a three-week festival of of “circus, cabaret and extraordinary performance” being staged July 11-29. All shows are "Pay What You Decide", you reserve tickets in advance—totally free—and make a donation of your choice after the performance.