Showgirls and Spies

Rebecca Wilson
Young Pleasance
Pleasance Dome

Showgirls and spies

Young Pleasance returns to the Fringe with a moving story of the Jewish Florence Waren, who became a resistance fighter during the Second World War. She was also an ambitious, gifted ballet dancer, and this profession provided her cover, 'in the spotlight'.

Switching to the present day in North London, her family are sitting Shiva, the Jewish period of mourning, and have been left their grandmother’s suitcase containing letters, photographs and posters that reveal her amazing life, each object providing a link to her past history.

Florence performs at the infamous Bal Tabarin club in Paris, famous for its Can-Can girls, and the exuberant dancers bring a touch of showbiz glitz to their impressive choreography.

But life under Nazi Germany is proving difficult, as the persecution of the Jews takes a tighter grip and Florence has to hide her identity and take a new name, Sadie. There is a poignant love story intertwined with the horrors of occupation as the French Resistance bravely tries to sabotage the Nazis and save the Jews from capture.

The talented company’s powerful physical theatre work and expressive facial images are a joy to watch. They constantly move the set, consisting of wheeled steps and a large photo frame, that is inventively used to create the many different locations with a military precision. And the suitcases that litter the stage represent the transient life of the time.

The emotional ending leaves the audience with much to think about.

Written and directed by Rebecca Wilson, a former member of YP and a relative of Florence, and co-directed by Marc Benga, this production has all the hallmarks of the Young Pleasance’s enthusiastic ensemble style. Certainly one that should be on your must-see list.

Reviewer: Robin Strapp

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