Camden Fringe 2018: How to Be a Londoner in an Hour at Hen & Chickens Theatre
The new production by playwright Steve Hili aims to be a guidebook for non-Londoners in becoming better acquainted with the ways and characteristics defining those from the Big Smoke.
Presenting the piece as a set of modules in a classroom-like setting complete with whiteboard and marker pens, the trio are live and spirited on stage. Paul Cockney introduces the show to the theme tune of Eastenders, dressed in chimneysweeper attire, his face marked by black ashes. Joining him is Alex, a drama student from the north of England, bubbly and determined to take the London stage by storm. The latter’s chirpiness is slowly taken down several notches when she meets her future self (Christopher Dingli) who appears clad in silver space overalls, with a hairband matching her own. Time travel is presented comically through manual clock turning and a copious amount of Lynx deodorant, which admittedly is a little nauseating in such a small space.
If you happen to be an actual Londoner – apparently a rarity these days – the jokes and running gags can feel tiresome, and certainly not original. The audience interaction is good: the performers select an unsuspecting viewer to play Prince Harry, who is evidently embarrassed, producing raucous laughter from the room. A passive aggression quiz is also fun for audience participation, but overall the piece feels a little dated, with opinions about the capital presented as running gags, like the rudeness of inhabitants, the high prices of rent and tourists standing in the middle of the pavement, to name a few.
If you’re in the mood for some cheap thrills, this is the show for you. How To Be a Londoner in an Hour could be funnier in future productions, with less of the typical anecdotes you hear about the locals, and more truths that actually represent those living here. Having said that, the show is amusing at certain moments – involving some song-and-dance numbers – and at points, it leans into lewd territory with sexual innuendoes, something that tonight’s theatregoers clearly enjoy.
Camden Fringe 2018: How to Be a Londoner in an Hour is at Hen & Chickens Theatre from 9th August until 12th August 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.