Golden Goose Theatre, London – until 26 June 2021
What is it about words that end in -nge that make so many of them so satisfying to say. The highlight of The Great British Sewing Bee was undoubtedly the number of times people said flange and so I was delighted with the focus on saying Penge that started off this play.
Chris Larner’s The Frida Kahlo of Penge West has previously pootled around the fringe of both Edinburgh and London and now re-emerges at one of the newest (and friendliest) theatres in the English capital, Camberwell’s Golden Goose Theatre. And it proves a rather rowdily, raucous bit of good fun.
It’s a cautionary tale about reuniting with lost-lost university friends. Zoe lives a quiet life in South East London, nurturing a massive crush on her boss, but finds herself substantially encouraged out of her shell when a chance encounter with old uni pal and frustrated actress Ruth ends up with her staying on her sofa and shaking up her life.
The level of theatrical in-jokes might deter the casual viewer but there’s such vibrancy in the performances of Cecily Nash and Laura Kirman that they can’t help but win you over. Nash’s sinks her teeth deeply in Ruth’s outrageous flamboyancy and Kirman does a marvellous job in showing that Zoe’s meekness isn’t quite all it seems. Great fun.