Originally published on A Younger Theatre
“I kicked a fucking pram”, declares Jude (Sarah Mayhew) at the start of the anger management class. Straight to the point, it explains exactly why she is there in the first place and givesPramkicker its no-frills title. Quite like Jude, the performance is direct, honest and pulls no punches. It makes no apologies and it doesn’t sugar-coat anything. Jude was angry when she bumped into the mother in an “independent coffee emporium”, got into a fight and accidentally kicked the empty pram (“oh the kid wasn’t in it, I’m not mental!”) into the street. So now with little sister Susie (Sadie Hasler) she is faced with a choice – anger management classes or a court case. Such are the trials and tribulations of the single, 30-something, opinionated woman. But the classes open up a deeper set of sisterly issues – why was Jude so angry and why is Susie constantly present, hanging off her coat tails?
Hasler and Mayhew are both the writer and director respectively, and the stars of Pramkicker. It explores the fierce opinions of two sisters as they are faced with issues that many women encounter in today’s society: the pursuit of love, the desire for independence, the quandry of motherhood. Jude has bucked the trend of Mother Nature and outwardly resents the pre-conceived notions of a woman’s life choices; Susie has a less sturdy grasp of her own individuality, but she idolises her older sister and dreams of having the life experiences that appear to have imparted such confidence. “She was the centre of everything in my universe and I was just… me. The invisible satellite”.
Initially the play is light-hearted and jovial, despite the subject material. There is a sarcastic realism in both actors that unites their performances; the premise would not be out of place in a sitcom, some episode of Absolutely Fabulous complete with angry comedy and a dry disdain for the traditional. But as the story develops, the play unveils deeper layers. The sisters open up about the emotional impact of their past (and their present) and ultimately are left bound closer together than ever.
Both performers have light and shade in the characters. As Jude, Mayhew is straightforward and to the point, yet emotionally guarded. Even when she opens up about her past to her sister, there is a restraint that stubbornly will not be relinquished. Initially it masks any emotional attachment to the character, but this ultimately enhances the overall performance in the latter half of the play. Hasler’s Susie is easier to crack: she imitates her sister’s character but is more emotional and easier to empathise with. Her monologue near the end of the show is passionate and speaks to every 30-something member of the audience.
It is clear that the two actors are in sync, and they play off each other’s reactions to great effect. The emotional dialogue is honest and real, while the light-hearted moments dancing to ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’ are endearing and infectious. Pramkicker is a banner for the women of society determined to buck the trend, but equally for the men of society who don’t identify with their traditional roles either.
Pramkicker is playing at the King’s Head Theatre as part of #Festival45 until 1 November. For more information and tickets, see the King’s Head Theatre website. Photo: Old Trunk Theatre.