Vulvarine is the superhero movie that all teenage girls were missing when they grew up. This mad musical comedy is the latest production from Fat Rascal, an incredibly talented group of ‘movers, shakers and musical comedy makers’ whose inventive shows keep Fringe goers coming back year after year. And this year was no disappointment. Vulvarine was an explosion of colour, dance and feminist fun that left the crowd roaring with laughter.
There’s not a single weak link
With just the right level of silliness, Vulvarine follows the journey of average Jane, Bryony Buckle, who acquires superpowers when she’s hit by a bolt of lightning after a dodgy hormone injection. The characters that populate Bryony’s world are each as hilarious as the last, with Robyn Grant shining in an impressive array of roles (she’s as comfortable as a singing house cat as she is an evil scientist). In fact, among the cast of Vulvarine there’s not a single weak link. Whether trapped in laser tanks or singing about cat’s anuses, their timing was impeccable and always very funny.
The heartwarming relationship between office friends, Bryony and Poppy, is a charming addition to the show, giving a nice nod towards the solidarity between women in the workplace. Unfortunately, it did sometimes feel like the show was a bit too reliant on feminist gimmicks, as Vulvarine fights the ‘Mansplainer’ and protects the women of High Wycombe from ‘manspreading.’ Luckily, though, the women-led team is so talented that they prevent the show from turning into a roll call of feminist buzzwords. In fact, the musical really shone when it stopped dealing with feminism and poked fun out of the banality of High Wycombe.
As the show reached its climax, the audience was utterly captivated. And when Bryony emerged finally in her most extravagant sea urchin-cum-superhero costume, I heard a woman in the row ahead begin to cry with laughter. And, even if a night of musical feminism might not be for everyone, I think if you’ve got members of the audience sobbing with laughter, you’re probably on to a winner.