Sh!t Theatre are back with their self-proclaimed “Mainstream crossover hit” DollyWould. After the immense success of Letters To Windsor House, Sh!t Theatre’s fame only increases with a sold out and critically acclaimed run of DollyWould at the Edinbrugh Fringe Festival. Seeing this show in another sold out run at Camden People’s Theatre was as a Queen Mary University of London student was highly exciting as the company are some of the most popular drama department alums. The show doesn’t thematically follow on from Letters To Windsor House but does contain some throwback points and the same ideas of friendship that is integral to these ladies performances. The show does however look into the fascinating worlds of Dolly Parton and her fame and then to Dolly the sheep the world’s first clone. These two ideas which would not usually be lumped together work perfectly in sending messages about fame, originality and consumerism.
With no real plot to guide them, Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit play with music, video and costume to perfectly guide the audience through interviews with Dolly Parton, genetic scientists and their trip to DollyWorld in Tennessee. As usual a lot of their comedy came through the interaction between Becca and Louise, and through the confusion between Dolly Parton and Dolly the sheep. Becca and Louise always have incredible energy on stage and this performance was no different, everything was incredibly well rehearsed especially the synchronised movements that really highlighted the amount of work that has been put into this show. A very touching personal piece at the end linked this show to Letters To Windsor House and gave a more personal reasoning behind the subject matter. As for moments when something inevitably went a little off script they dealt with it graciously and with a good deal of humour to make the audience laugh and forget the blunder immediately. One moment that stands out to me as being the most funny is when the two were wearing blacked out goggles painted with eyes and they had to find their way back to their microphones. The childish sense of humour that is used in moments of their show is really what helps make it more light-hearted especially when they talk about more serious subjects. In comparison to other shows DollyWould is far less outwardly political but it does contain some deeper more serious messages for the audience to slowly digest and think about.
One of the most rigorously repeated messages was that about body image, this is solid subject to talk about and was frequently referenced in the Dolly Parton interviews they used. Both girls used a variety of props and costumes to indicate they were talking about body image, such as wigs, giant breast costumes and cutting holes in their own tops. The partial nudity had a large impact as it continued for a majority of the show eventually becoming less noticeable as time went on. The link between the use of breasts in the show and the theme of Dolly Parton is clear, in many of the interviews used the interviewer can be heard asking Dolly about her own breasts and making assumptions about them. This bodily focus is one of the messages the company are clearly making a statement on. The idea of body image is closely linked to originality within the show in the same way that Dolly Parton and Dolly the sheep are linked. Both are known to be completely different and doing something as the first of their kind. The idea of using a clone to display uniqueness is an irony remarked upon in the show, but it is done very well. The show itself makes an effort to be unique but from the rest of Sh!t Theatre’s back catalogue and instead markets itself as mainstream showing it is not fully unique at all. This paradox is entirely self-aware and therefore is hardly noticeable whilst you are watching it.
As always the company makes incredible use of multimedia throughout the performance with clips of interviews being played both aurally and visually, song lyrics being projected and their own content from the trip being projected onto the large screen at the back of the stage. The performers work very well with these clips integrate them into the performance, one would not work without the other and vice versa. One stand out moment for me was towards the end of the performance where on the screen layered was footage from previous performances of the show, the girls stood in front of this to create a loop that will feature in future shows. These are combined by renditions of Sh!t Theatres own songs alongside Dolly Parton songs, the songs are always used humorously and with great skill. Louise and Becca play their own instruments and create loops to make their own backing tracks something they have done in previous shows. This technique is not stale however and the physical comedy created in doing this mixed with the great amount of talent is still astonishing.
Unfortunately the current run at The Camden People’s Theatre is sold out; however the pair will be back in the new year at The Soho Theatre which still has tickets available. Being not too expensive and always funny, I would recommend everyone to go see this show. It is light-hearted in all the right places and serious without ever preaching to its audience so everyone even if they are not a fan of fringe theatre usually would enjoy this show.