Two funny women, ten fun characters and a tonne of costume changes. Capricious Rose Productions’ Strife in a Northern Town is a fast-paced exploration of one ‘crap’ town in the north of England and its female inhabitants – from sex-mad supermarket workers to competitive secretaries.
The audience enters to find an angry supermarket manager, played by Tracy Gabbitas, with a megaphone in hand waiting impatiently for us to take our seats. It’s a playful touch that keeps us on our toes. At the performance I attended, Gabbitas provided the first laugh before the play even began, tutting furiously at an audience member who dropped something loudly on the floor. Gabbitas and co-star Jennifer Banks clearly have a propensity for spontaneity and I’d love to see them develop this more throughout the play.
Strife in a Northern Town is full of vivacity, featuring snippets from popular songs and an impressive array of characters played by just two actors. With simple lighting and set design, the joy of this production comes from watching how much Gabbitas and Banks create from just some furniture and props.
Banks gives a touching performance as Donna the supermarket worker who goes from hating people to finding her place in the town, and Gabbitas comes into her own as Pepsi the bubbly secretary working for the district council. The character changes are always very clear, so I think that Banks and Gabbitas could do a little less and let the dialogue do more of the work for them.
The energy of this play is a big tick for me, but at times I found it difficult to keep up as the plot progressed. At 75 minutes, some cuts might help to keep the focus on the story arch and make for a slicker evening of storytelling.
This is a very promising play and I’m excited to see how it develops! With a keen eye for detail and a flair for making something out of nothing, you’ll want to keep Capricious Rose Productions on your radar.
For more information on where you might be able to catch Strife in a Northern Town, follow Capricious Rose Productions on Twitter @capricious_rose.