Writers: Tom Brennan, Tom Crosley-Thorne, Tom England, Emily Greenslade, Jesse Jones, Kerry Lovell, Jesse Meadows, Helena Middleton, James Newton, Ben Vardy, Edythe Wooley
Director: Tom Brennan and Jesse Jones
Music: Tom Crosely-Thorne
Reviewer: Karen Bussell
HYPED to be the pinnacle of sexual freedom and a good time being had by all, 1972 would seem to be not quite so different to teenage experience before or since.
Quirky and breathless, The Wardrobe Ensemble stirs up an orgy of live and recorded music, physical theatre, dance and spoken word exploring the flip side of that heady acid-fuelled romp known as the Seventies and close encounters of the first kind.
A medley of music and sound bites swiftly rewinds the clock from present day to a time of glam rock, crushed velvet loons, space hoppers and Angel Delight.
Tom England’s exuberant writhing and ranting declares everyone is doing it everywhere… but clearly not, as a painfully awkward school disco-esque line-up cringing behind him reveals.
There are four main stories here: of burgeoning hormones, sweat on polyester, sexual awakening, disappointment and exploration which intermingle and reach an inevitable climax but interweaved is sub-text – parents outraged at the androgynous Bowie, marital frustration, latent homophobic violence and schoolboy crushes.
Singer and Norfolk lover Rich (Ben Vardy) is in luck despite mysteriously leaving early for a sound check, Christine (Kerry Lovell) is ready, her parents are away and tonight’s the night once she has swotted up by watching Deepthroat in some seedy adult movie shop; Antony/Tony/Anton (James Newton) is working out just who he is and what he should be wearing, or not, as the case may be; nerdy Anna (Jesse Meadows) is swept off her feet by the slinkily cool, booted Tessa (Emily Greenslade) while student Penny (Helena Middleton) finds she has an unexpected lesson to learn from groovy sociology lecturer Martin (England) whose onomatopheres may be wow but is a textbook male chauvinist in bed.
The absurdity and transience of adolescent angst is subtly and humorously explored with some clever racing forward references – 70s feminist icon Greer sells out on Celebrity Big Brother, Brian’s suppressed frustration erupts, ordinariness surprises and porn remains ubiquitous – sounding a clear message that there really is nothing new in the world of teenagers.
Guitarist Tom Crosley-Thorne provides on point covers and original music back-dropping a clever piece of innovative use of movement and sound, nicely paced for the most part but which occasionally strayed into the mundane, over-stylised and overdone.
Undoubtedly a company to watch.
Runs until 18 June 2016 | Image: Richard Davenport