Punk and theatre aren't the strangest of bedfellows, but there is something that often feels false when collectives of art school graduates and professionally-trained actors attempt to go rock 'n' roll for the evening. One could be forgiven for such worries when going in to see this show from Burnt Lemon Theatre, but happily the production contains no such falsities. Instead, The Half Moon Shania is an authentic, joyously messy hour of catchy tunes, freewheeling anarchy and surprisingly heartfelt optimism.
The Half Moon Shania is an authentic, joyously messy hour
Grinning, gurning and yelling in the faces of the audience, the three women on stage form the 90s girl punk band 'The G-Strings'. Tonight, for their audience, they play what could potentially be either their last ever gig or their big break into the mainstream. Playing with tropes before subverting some and welcoming others, the show structures itself as a punk gig with occasional intermissions. The dancing is fierce, the singing is fiery and the band are endless fun to watch even when the story takes over in the second half.
The three performers throw everything they have into their performance and their enthusiasm is incredibly infectious. Cara Baldwin, writer of the show, plays "Ketamin" Kerry with a fierce intensity and a lilting, swaggering posture that simultaneously enraptures the audience and keeps them on their toes. Catherine Davies and Laura Green as the band's guitarist and bassist respectively are equally powerful, with the former the most convincing girl-punk star of the three and the latter displaying a uniquely subtle tenderness to their performance.
It should be noted that a willingness to embrace the unexpected is required to best enjoy this show. Whilst most theatre pieces are content to let their audience sit in silence, this is a show that really feeds off a crowd reaction. Though the band showed their professionalism with a slightly muted audience on this particular day, one can't help but assume with the louder crowd that might come with a late night slot this should would really pack the punch it winds up.
In addition, given the subject matter that the show eventually finds itself with, it would be callous to demand an unquestionably happy ending, but it is a shame that the show ends so inconclusively when the collective succeed so well in forging a connection with their audience.
The Half Moon Shania is very close to its fifth star. With an evening timeslot, a bit of crowd warm-up and a more conclusive ending, Burnt Lemon Theatre could have on their hands one of the best shows in town. As it is, The Half Moon Shania is a hugely enjoyable hour for those able to throw themselves into a midday punk party with a little audience interaction and a lot of riotous fun.