Casting Call Woe

Next on the list of unusual inspirations: Casting Call Woe is a Fringe show based on a blog. The blog uses casting calls (the notices films and TV shows put up to request an actor for a role) to show the incredible way women are treated in show business, while simultaneously amusing through the pure ridiculousness. A quick look at the blog will reveal a couple trends: there are a lot of calls for naked women, women corpses and naked women corpses. But how do you turn that into a live show? Well, not particularly well, as it turns out. Casting Call Woe is kind of a low-budget variety show, complete with guest stars, different segments and games, and a really bad PowerPoint.

Casting Call Woe is a show with an important and immediate message.

The production does do an excellent job of lending credibility to their work. The blog’s creator, known as Proresting, is joined by host Tiff Stevenson, a veteran of the comedic circuit, stage and screen. They also have feature a rotating cast of other professional actresses and an actor. You can trust this group of people when they say that the industry has issues, and in that respect, it does something the blog cannot: show the people who have to respond to these absurd casting directors. In that, the show is an effective tool for informing the public. Between sections, they display statistics about women in film and TV, which provoke shock and disgust. Certain sections, though, felt somewhat under-researched. For example, during a long segment on the Bechdel test, they never pronounced her name correctly.

The show struggles to making itself entertaining. Pace is a significant issue. Because of the rotating cast, and the fact that even its regular members have other shows this Fringe, they all read off of a script. The effort of reading definitely dulls the pace and momentum, and numerous times, there were stops to figure out whose line it was. The tech didn’t help: though the PowerPoint backdrop had a unique aesthetic, there wasn’t a single cue that didn’t seem to come a second too late. The material itself is quite funny, though perhaps easier to absorb from the blog, where one can scroll through as quickly or slowly as is desirable. So the funniest part of my show was guest Russell Howard (known for Mock the Week and numerous other shows). His improvised asides worked better than the written comedy because they was pacier than anything else, but may have detracted from the point, especially since Howard was the one man in a show about women.

Casting Call Woe is a show with an important and immediate message. But in entertaining, as it tries so hard to do, it falls short. To their credit: adapting blogs into theatre is still a budding art form.

Reviews by Bennett Bonci

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The Blurb

'Actress with good sized boobs wanted to play sexy nun...' 'She is past her prime aged 23-30...' Actors are asked to do ridiculous things in the name of their craft. Sexist, racist, homophobic, ageist – you name it; there has been a casting breakdown for it. On stage for the first time the actors’ casting process is laid bare by amazing guests from the worlds of acting and comedy. Hosted by Tiff Stevenson and blog creator @proresting. ‘Casting Call Woe exposes the different standards of expectation when it comes to male and female acting roles’ (Telegraph).