• Amy Toledano

Femme Fatale presented by Fireraisers

What is it? 

Two female revolutionaries, lead singer of The Velvet Underground Nico (Polly Wiseman) and the radical feminist Valerie Solanas (Sophie Olivia) are thrown together in the Chelsea Hotel and find that they are fighting the same fight, in their own ways.

What's it all about? 

In the Chelsea Hotel, Valerie Solanas wakes Nico from her sleep with the crash of a tambourine. The pair are both to be in the latest Andy Warhol film and together they wait to be called on to set. Solanas is filled with rage, her SCUM (The Society of Cutting Up Men) Manifesto copied and ready to hand out to anyone willing to listen. Nico, on the other hand, busies herself with the task of beautify, ready to act opposite Jim Morrison and make her good friend Andy Warhol happy. But her hands are shaking and she needs her fix, so while Valerie organises a delivery for her, the pair uncover truths from within one another they thought were well hidden. Valerie needs to get her script seen by Andy Warhol and she needs Nico to talk it up, but Nico has other ideas about how Valerie can pursue her work as an artist.

How did it make me feel? 

This fascinating story about these important female figures, is completely refreshing and interesting. Polly Wiseman's writing is often brutal, unafraid of the hard hitting truth and stating it without hesitation. Both performers encapsulate their characters perfectly, and the multi-media imagery and video that plays throughout the show acts as a reminder of the truth, that these women were real flesh and blood human beings and pushed hard against societies expectations of them when others were too afraid to do the same.

The cabaret sets that we dip in and out of also work well, and add a sense of danger and rebellion to the piece, keeping the audience on their toes.

The shows ending is just as clever, and poses the important question of "why isn't this fixed yet?". The anger and frustration that is left to settle upon the audience is apparent, but there was an uncomfortable air too. Yes, it is infuriating that we are fighting the same battle as women of the 1960s, but I was left wanting more, and waiting for a fire to light in me that, sadly did not appear.

Where Is It Playing? 

Omnibus Theatre in Clapham have had a recent refurbishment that serves the show well, the intimate Common Room space allows for a cabaret set up and brings a sense of urgency to the show.

Anything Else? 

It is clear that Femme Fatale is very important. The anguish that pumps through the blood of women, minorities and communities unable to speak out is apparent, and yet it still feels like these women are wearing masks, holding back, but perhaps this in itself if another indicator of the self protection that women use even with one another.

Amy x

Femme Fatale is playing at Omnibus Theatre until the 27th October 2019.

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