• Amy Toledano

LadyLikes: Top Secret House Party!

What is it?

Actor/comedians Phoebe Batteson-Brown and Miztli Rose bring their sketch show ‘Ladylikes: Top Secret House Party!’ to the Vaults after an Edinburgh debut. 

What is it about?

Loosely based around the theme of parties, Batteson-Brown and Rose open the show with an impressively energetic song and dance number, detailing how much they hate house parties to the tune of Tik Tok by Kesha. What follows is a somewhat confused hour of sketch comedy, which sees the comedians play everything from horny dinner ladies to righteous party princesses. One of their first sketches seems to set the ‘millennial crisis commentary’ tone that a lot of the show takes; it’s Halloween, and a young woman has decided to come as the scariest thing she can imagine, a 30 year old intern. Next, the apparently terrifying world of weddings is tackled, with a sketch about a bride putting her best friends through a 4 stage interview process for the role of Maid of Honour. The women make a comment on ‘woke culture’ with a party princess who ruins a child’s birthday by refusing to dress up and engage in ‘gender stereotypes’, and in the quarter life crisis generation with a sketch about two old school friends bumping into each other, with one listing off all her accomplishments and demanding the other to ‘TELL ME I HAVE A PERFECT LIFE’. 

While these kinds of topical ‘millennial’ tropes are done well, the material seems somewhat unoriginal and tired in comparison to the sketches in which Rose and Batteson-Brown truly let their imagination run wild. We get to watch an Ann Summers party being hosted by two old dinner ladies who have forgotten their naughty supplies and have to make do with stuff they find in the kitchen instead, two girls having a heart to heart in the toilets at the year 6 leavers’ disco, and a dinner party hosted in post-apocalyptic Richmond in the year 2050. These are the moments that seem truly experimental, and are the most joyful and dizzying to watch.

How did it make me feel?

Rose and Batteson-Brown are obviously talented and charismatic performers, there is no question about that. From the moment the show starts, it is clear we are in safe hands; their comic style is subtle and inventive, and it is joyful to watch two performers who clearly have such a deep, intuitive connection interact with each other on stage. 

While there were moments of brilliance, it seems more than anything that Rose and Batteson-Brown are under-served by their material. The sketches go on too long a number of times, and they decide to change costume for each sketch, which makes for an awkward and often silent few moments before and after. There is also a show-within-a-show element running through which doesn't quite work, with the girls ‘breaking character’ to have little spats, centred around the fact that Rose is leaving her shared flat with Batteson-Brown to move in with her boyfriend. Instead of feeling like true snapshots into the girl’s obviously close relationship, the way these little vignettes are acted (with the same heightened, comedic, almost caricatured slant as the main sketches) means that they don't truly feel like a break in the show, but more like an obviously scripted sketch, but without the jokes. 

Anything else?

Obviously brilliant and able performers, but sadly the material needs work.

Maia x

LadyLikes: Top Secret House Party is playing in the Studio, The Vaults until 30th January 2020.

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