Originally published on A Younger Theatre
Hip H’Opera is now a thing thanks to the team from Witt ‘N Camp. These two staccato, shrill, singing divas appear in masquerade masks and constantly compete for centre stage. At first it’s a vocal challenge, who is quickest around the words of those celebrated maestro composers – Coolio, Nicki Minaj, Soft Cell fused with Adele. Charlie Howitt (Witt) and Holly Campbell (Camp) are both vocally capable, have a clear chemistry and a haphazard chaotic energy as they throw clothes on and off stage to transition between characters in this cabaret maelstrom.
Eventually it transforms into a physical fist fight, as the two divas disintegrate before the audience to become the jailbirds Witt ‘N Camp that grace the pop-up posters that form the backdrop to the showcase. In between this, the audience are treated to a Shoreditch version of the Ab Fab duo; two cynical Irish chickens hell bent on killing their adultering husband of a rooster, as well as a series of other solo vignettes to break up and pepper the performance.
In true cabaret style, audience reaction and participation are the name of the game. Unwitting and uneasy male members on the front row pose as bodyguards, tape the girls into boxes and half-heartedly play the triangle out of time. The lacklustre attempts of this audience adds to the overall atmosphere – despite it seeming frantic and thrown together at the last minute, there is clearly a lot of careful preparation that goes into each act, each personality and each mannerism from Witt ‘N Camp.
A number of the characters fall short and there is clearly a lull in performance during the middle, some more thought needs to take into account repeated character development, new comic devices to keep the audience engaged or alternative characters that take the show in a new direction. Some of the solo appearances break up the overall pace and leave a flat impression – Campbell’s burlesque performance however is well considered, effective and ultimately makes a meaningful point. A tongue in cheek look at a burlesque performer breastfeeding her baby has a tender touch and an empowering nod towards feminism whilst still keeping the audience laughing pleasantly.
Sixty minutes here feel too long at present for this work in progress – thirty minutes of decent material are stretched too thin. Witt ‘N Camp’s capability are clearly established, stronger writing will develop this duo and mark them as an act to watch at fringe venues in the future.
Witt ‘N Camp played The Vaults on 16 February. For more information, see the website.