Ginger Hibiscus | News from Ginger Hibiscus - Win Lose Draw at the Waterloo East Theatre
News from Ginger Hibiscus - Win Lose Draw at the Waterloo East Theatre
News from Ginger Hibiscus - Win Lose Draw at the Waterloo East Theatre
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26 Aug REVIEW: Win Lose Draw at the Waterloo East Theatre

Win Lose Draw presents us with an anthology of three plays that look and feel very different to eachother, but that nevertheless have common strands running all the way through them. In “Win,” or rather, “Little Miss Fresno,” two mothers watch their precious daughters in a child beauty pageant. “Lose,” or “Final Placement,” follows a social worker visited by a mother whose child has been removed from her care; and finally, two employees at a conference discuss their battles with food, dieting and their experiences of marriage in, “Draw,” or “Chocolate Cake.”

When I started writing this review, those are the raw, unedited words that fell from my fingers onto my keyboard, as I immediately tried to describe what happens in the play. But on reading back that assessment, it’s clear that I couldn’t have done a worse job. I’ve fallen into that all-too-common trap. The very same trap that Win Lose Draw begs us not to. I’ve defined these women – all of them – by their roles, by the labels they’re given by a predominantly patriarchal society. I’ve dehumanised them, masked their faces, and in doing so, belittled them in a way I never intended. So let’s try again.

Win Lose Draw offers a rare theatrical glimpse into the female psyche. In an industry dominated by male writers, we have the wonderfully refreshing experience of seeing plays written by women, and being performed by women, that put those anonymous mothers and wives in centre stage, under the spotlight. That’s certainly not to say this is a man-bashing soirée, or that it’s a show all about gender; but it’s the approach to these characters that makes it really stand out.

In a fascinating decision from writers Ara Watson and Mary Gallagher, we are presented with a play about a beauty pageant where we never actually see any of the competitors. In my favourite play of the compilation, Ginger (Lucy Eaton) and Doris (Melanie Heslop) watch their daughters Amber and Ashley performing, desperately trying to convince themselves and eachother that their daughters will win. Exhibiting antithetical parental techniques and priorities, they deliver a wickedly funny play, an astute observation on parenthood, expectations, and the interaction between US socio-economic status and behaviour. Particularly striking was the ability of the two actresses to say 1000 words with every glance, and to maintain the play’s momentum with barely any physical movement on stage.

We continue the exploration of socio-economic status and parenthood in the second play, “Final Placement,” which moves firmly away from comedy and into the realms of the poignant. Charlotte Purton and Melanie Heslop deliver fantastic performances; emotional, challenging and distinctive, they’re thoroughly engaging, and the strong use of pre-recorded material gives a lovely extra layer that accentuates the otherwise simple design.

The comedy creeps back in in, “Draw,” which is a charming melange of anxiety, marriage and unhealthy food relationships. It’s a play I really relate to, as Annmarie and Delia face temptation, out their demons and talk about their family lives.  On a personal level, it’s one of the first times I’ve seen my own thought processes presented to me on stage, almost verbatim. And that in itself is really powerful. At moments it does threaten to knock at the door of cliché, and there are moments that feel almost Tom and Jerry-esque, but the impact, actually, is to balance out the moments of real emotional intensity.

The fact that the show seems to have this ability to see into my head and put that onto stage, can only be attributed to great writing, great acting and great direction. It’s not a show that’s likely to change your life, alter your way of thinking or open your eyes to some previously invisible issue, but it is one that looks at an interesting cross-section of society, and that entertains from curtain up to curtain down.

For tickets and information:

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here