Around 20 minutes before the show started we were told to ‘drink up our apple juice’ and to say bye to our parents before we were taken across the pond to America and aggressively welcomed into summer camp. But this summer camp was not the exciting experience what you would have hoped for aged 10. Instead, there was ever-building friction between the hosts Emily (Emelia Stawicki) and Betsy (Betty Walsh) and you got the feeling that camp wasn’t going to be all about you… it was about them instead.
If you crossed Mr G from Summer Heights High with Tracy Beaker at the peak of one of her meltdowns, then you’d get a sense of Camp Be Yourself.
If you crossed Mr G from Summer Heights High with Tracy Beaker at the peak of one of her meltdowns, then you’d get a sense of Camp Be Yourself. There was a constant contrast of moods between the two characters: Emily was an overly enthusiastic leader and Betsy was a failed actress turned miserable children's entertainer. There was an obvious repression of childhood conflict between Emily and Betsy which was projected onto the audience. Both of them broke the fourth wall in a frenzied way in the hopes of winning the audience over to their side of the argument.
Emily’s character was extremely intense, desperate to enforce fun in the camp while abiding by the rules and policing her co-worker. Stawicki’s facial expressions were hilarious; she had a constant look of discomfort towards Betsy’s behaviour all while straining a smile for the kids. On the other hand, Betsy was desperate to outshine everyone in performance with a couldn’t-care-less attitude towards child-friendly behaviour. Both actors really got into their roles and I didn’t doubt either of their performances for a second. Emily and Betsy had their own quirks and I could tell the work that had gone into characterisation.
One of the funniest parts of the show was when both characters realised they were, in fact, ‘the adults’. Retching, panic and denial ensued before they took to dancing to work through their sad epiphany. I also loved when Betsy left voicemails for God. Her urgent tone was contradicted by her childish issues and millennial language. This was made all the more humorous by ‘God’ adding a message for Betsy to stop calling to his answerphone. Each unanswered call heightened her frustration and this progression throughout the show was shown through increasingly hostile interactions with Emily.
If you’re looking for a summer camp for your children, please don’t take them here as I’d be worried for their safety. But, if you’re looking for an hour’s worth of laughs you’ll love this show.