The Lady’s Not for Walking like an Egyptian at The Albany
Rachel Mars and nat tarrab (sic), collectively Mars.tarrab, return to the stage once more with a revised version of their fourth show, The Lady’s not for Walking Like an Egyptian. Originally commissioned to celebrate 50 years of the Ovalhouse, this is in essence an exploration into the good, the bad and the downright despicable elements that ultimately defined Britain in the 1980s.
How you categorise these elements will largely depend on your age and the shade of nostalgia you carry for the actions of Margaret Thatcher along with the pop culture of the time. Mars, an optimist born at the start of the decade, holds fond memories for cycling shorts and Jennifer Rush. Tarrab on the other hand, 18 and politically active by the time the 90s rolled around, has a somewhat different view and, as it turns out, holds serious reservations about creating a show involving any reference to the milk-snatching champion of Section 28 to begin with. This running conflict forms the basis of the performance as the two argue and subedit their way through the material in a way that doesn’t so much break the conventional rules of theatre as ignore them completely.
The rapport Mars.tarrab share carries this unusual format with an excitable fluidity, so much so that the odd clumsy moment, when ambition extends far beyond the confines of the stage, barely registers. Even the show’s participatory beginning, usually enough to cast dread into any front row, escapes the expected feel of awkwardness, which can only serve as testament to their collective charisma.
The result is a brilliantly mad and thought-provoking explosion of sketches, introspection and protestation told through the mediums of slapstick, satire and space hoppers. From the newsreader-style versions of Thatcher’s speeches interwoven with equally deadpan, spoken word renditions of pop songs, all the way to tarrab being pelted with pints of milk for refusing to involve herself in the grand finale, you are taken on an emotional journey that shifts gears from poignancy to madcap hilarity as quickly as the duo can don a pair of comedy spectacles. What you are left with is a sense of bewildered nausea as you consider Thatcher’s legacy – a sense that, in the run up to this general election in particular, seems just as relevant today as it no doubt would have on Greenham Common.
The Lady’s Not for Walking like an Egyptian is on at The Albany until 24th April 2015, for further information or to book visit here.