Sunday, 11 November 2007

Salsa Saved The Girls - Old Red Lion

Salsa Saved The Girls by Rose Martula
Old Red Lion Theatre: 23rd October – 17th November
Directed by Rachel Parish.

Reviewed by Francesca Elliott

Salsa Saved the Girls by Rose Martula would be more aptly named ‘What not to wear and how not to parent' Cali and her two daughters live in a gaudy, screamingly 80s Long Island apartment filled with neon flamingos, leopard print and vodka.

The play begins with Kai and Sabrina waiting for their father (who they hate), while their mother (who also hates him) is waiting for a date. Sabrina is a sullen 17yr old Goth and Kai is a precocious child dying to be noticed. Dressed in a tutu and ballet shoes she spends the whole play pirouetting round the room, with hardly a glance from anyone thrown her way. Sally Ann Ramage who plays her does an extremely convincing ten year old, wide eyed, stroppy and excitable. It comes as a bit of a surprise therefore when we find out that she’s actually meant to be fourteen. This must be one of the most naïve New York 14yr olds in history, and the fact that she is playing her character so young, makes it all the more uncomfortable when we see her swearing like a trooper, downing shots and passing her spliff to her mother.

When the father, the date and her lovesick therapist all turn up, Cali is trapped in the flat with three of her lovers, none of whom are too happy to see the other. The script is mostly made up of people swearing and screaming at each other which becomes a bit tiresome and it’s difficult to see why a roomful of people who clearly hate each other don’t just politely take their leave. Cali is clearly not going to win any mother of the year award as she hands out drugs and booze to her daughters, but it’s her arrogant ex who comes off worst, revealed as a materialistic, greedy and neglectful father.

As the night goes on and the vodka flows more freely, each characters issues and insecurities are exposed. The play is very energetic and has some good one-liners. The intimate space of the Old Red Lion Theatre makes a perfect setting for the claustrophobic flat, and the cast all give good performances. However I have to warn you that the abundance of skin-tight purple Lycra is enough to make your eyes water, and don’t even get me started on the make-up!

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