Writer/Director: Jessica Forest and Olivia Nicholson.
Reviewer: Sam Lowe
What an eye catching name for a theatre company. Sugar Butties Theatre are a young company, who have developed Trolley Girls for a while, taking it to various theatre festivals around the country. Tonight, this two-hander performance is presented as part of The Greater Manchester Fringe, and it slots right in suitably. Jess works with her friend Olivia at an ASDA store in Burnley. But, to Olivia’s sadness, Jess has been promoted to a bigger ASDA store in Manchester. Trolley Girls uses comedy, music, and character work, to explore failed relationships, finding your own path, and how best friends stick together no matter what.
As the audience enter, pop music resonates around the space, building up a possible indentity of the characters we are about to meet. We first see Jess and Olivia, as performed by Jessica Forest and Olivia Nicholson, in a movement sequence, which reflects their daily work routine. They perform with shopping baskets instead of trollies, which is unexpected but still works. The scripted scenes are written well and are amusing. What is particularly funny, is the outrageous, northern humour in contrast with the formality of the workplace. When Jess and Olivia experience life changing events, they communicate their unhappiness through performing well-known songs. The song lyrics are hilariously reworked to fit with what has happened to them. The music video-esque moments are similar to what can be watched on Peter Kay’s Car Share, and they are a highlight of the show, prompting lots of laughter from the audience.
As performers, they are strong at character work. In particular, performing impressions of other people in Jess and Olivia’s lives. They have taken character stereotypes and layered them with extra detail, putting their own rib-tickling twist on them. Occasionally, Forest and Nicholson’s performances lack a little in confidence and feel held back. Consequently, this makes the movement sequences not as punchy and committed as they should be, and sometimes affects the comedy timing and acting.
Sugar Butties Theatre are ones to watch out for in the future. They have devised a comedy play, which is relateable to the Northern, Manchester audience, with some hilarious and well-crafted moments. As the performance plays on, you can see the real life friendship between Forest and Nicholson, which effectively filtrates into their performances.
Reviewed on 30th June 2017.