PRAMKICKER is a small, modestly created show but, as one might guess from the title, it is a far from delicate offering. From the first hilariously strategically placed f word to the final heartbreaking sequences this a mighty production which kicks it out of the park, pramwise.
For, Jude has actually kicked a pram and followed it up with worse. Her fuck laden speech to a group of similar misfits places her squarely in a room being punished for this and ancillary misdemeanours: like, being childless by choice. Accompanied by her sister Sue, we will get to understand their lives, their relationships and will experience two women we rarely see represented on stages without their being burdened by tropes and stereotypes. It’s a joyful rendering.
Famously the TV show , The Thick of It, employed a swearing consultant and Sadie Hasler has a very similar gift for the sweeping use of bad language for comic effect… it is uproariously enjoyable to the ear and combined with the wit of the insults, banter and characterization of the piece it becomes an adjunct layer of the story.
As Jude, Cecilia Morrow is superb. She hits the why in the wry full force. Her abrasiveness might be a prickly warning not to touch and her ‘sorry’ is clearly an FU but Morrow brings great heart to her character. And we get her! Morrow rips the words from the page and throws them with an almost exactly opposite meaning. Aided by the marvellous script which puts Jude in scenes where her closeness to her younger sister is explored in gin-ridden convos, Morrow never completely loses the shell even when her doll-destroying and pramkicking creation is speaking of sadnesses past.
Sue (Vaishnavi Suryaprakash) is a younger sister and the complexities of being a younger sibling are very well explored. Her character-setting of the first few scenes is both funny and warm. An appeaser and a dreamer, Sue also has an inner conflict and this is nicely brought out by Suryaprakash in several scenes where she brings her character out of her sister’s shadow. Though Sue’s final long speech is unfortunately one of the rare missteps in the text, Suryaprakash handles the wordy, passionate tract with empathy and a lack of oversentimentality. She also, delightfully, has a particular skill in showing when Sue is taken by surprise by something.
In addition, she takes on several other characters who interact with Jude and these are also effectively portrayed. These other outlets and inputs for Jude’s frustration are good examples of the excellence of Linda Nicholls-Gidley’s direction. They appear without showiness and carry the story forward with clear intent. The show is set on a wide stage which allows the characters to be isolated, but not alone, especially when the play does dip into the dark. This aspect is directed with dispassion by Nicholls-Gidley and allows the work of the terrific cast to travel an affecting emotional arc without mawkishness. The lighting design does a great job in these scenes when it unashamedly vibrates with the bright pink palette in an evocative contrast to the pathos. (Sophie Pekbilimli)
The comic elements and language are brisk and an audience needs to keep pace with our girls as the one liners tumble after each other. Pram owners are the target of much of Jude’s ire yet, somehow, the text remains respectful of parenting and love, it’s quite a balance and one of the most enjoyable aspects of the production.
Produced by new company Vox Theatre, PRAMKICKER is an uplifting, entertaining and weirdly emotional show which has laughs galore and two first-rate performances to kick it down the stairs and, despite our better selves, right into our hearts.