Camden People’s Theatre, London – run has now ended
Luna is a proper East London geezer. Busy with one-night stands, spitting rhymes and doing shots, she’s also a mum in a long term relationship on the prowl for fleeting moments that remind her she’s still young and alive.
Backed up by Kate Donnachie and Nate Forderstaple from Battersea Arts Centre’s Beatbox Academy, actor/writer Lauren Gauge’s spoken word piece celebrates rebellion against society’s expectations of young women with old school tunes, comedy and uncensored attitude. The Unmarried, though there’s plenty of room for development, is rough, raw, sassy and full of fight.
Beat boxing and 90s tunes underscore Gauge’s spoken word text, the soundtrack to Luna’s monologue on motherhood, mortgages and not marrying her fella. She longs to unleash herself from obligation and routine with moving rhymes and in-yer-face aggression that occasionally gives way to vulnerability. These moments are wonderfully poignant; they give the character depth and humanity.
The script tos and fros a bit, and Gauge’s pace is pretty relentless. It certainly works for the character, but a long day and a late start time leaves me a bit slow on the uptake. The climactic end comes suddenly with little build up, though it’s a satisfying rallying cry of independence. The Unmarried would work well in a club or non-traditional theatre space where the audience can dance and move, and the energy would feed the performers’ energy – this is certainly a piece that would work in the communal, night club atmosphere.
Gauge’s fiery presence and versatility make this a hugely watchable performance. Though also the writer, she wisely brings in director Niall Phillips to shape the piece. Phillips’ work with verse playwright Andrew Maddock is quickly establishing him as a director specialising in spoken word. His skill with staging and extracting the nuance from linguistically dense work is evident and, along with Gauge, is a talent to watch.