Review – “Pull Your Socks Up, Britain!” – Lotta Quizeen at the Camden Fringe


Among the cabaret curiosities of the London scene is Lotta Quizeen, whose persona as a diva of domesticity draws from an era utterly foreign to me (70s Britain, I think) and a TV character I’ve only experienced from YouTube (Fanny Craddock). So for me, she is utterly unique and unknowable at her heart, existing in a realm of pure imagination – for me, a combination of 1970s Betty Crocker cookbooks (complete with random dried flowers decorating a casserole), the optimism of Julia Child, and some strange flavor I’d classify as purely British (an air of superiority) that Mrs Quizeen would probably happily hear described as Spotted Dick (given her taste for double entendres).

Pull Your Socks Up

Pull Your Socks Up

So what do you get when you shake these things together? I expected an continuation of her previous performance’s audience participation (and occasional competition) with a sprinkling of constructed anecdote and slightly surreal singing moments, but, like our country’s politics, things seem to have taken a darker turn. Two years ago, the narrative seemed very focused on Mrs Quizeen’s husband (a diplomat in Brussels – all this, according to a friend, very closely followed the Fanny Craddock story arc); but now it seems that her son Hugo (and his disappointing wife – such a familiar mother in law trope!) are much more on her mind.
Show Image, Pull Your Socks Up Britain

Show Image, Pull Your Socks Up Britain

So, as the evening progresses, we were given lots of humor (yes, golf clubs do have a knob on the end and golfers end up with mucky balls), a fair amount of surreal (and creepy) domesticity (I’m not entirely sure how I feel about competitive cooking and housecleaning -I just don’t participate in one-upsmanship), the familiar audience interaction (this was fun) and and entirely new thing … reflections on aging and loneliness. Lotta Quizeen’s persona as a bitchy domestic expert (struggling, perhaps, with living with an alcoholic) became a bit heartbreaking with her revelations of how very much she wanted to have her grown son in her life. Suddenly, all of this folding and tidiness and efficiency became recast as an attempt to control the tiny domain over which she was actually queen – and a brittle facade keeping “the public” (or any nosy neighbor) away from the emotional turmoil within. In some ways, this made her even more British than before, and I found myself having to take a step back behind the fourth wall and remind myself that I was actually watching a show and a character – one that says far more about modern British life than I ever expected. Now, the evening is as a whole is still funny and whip-smart, but it’s even better in its current incarnation. All we need to do is have her collaborate with Dandy Darkly and you’d have Webcowgirl’s completely perfect night of one person performances – plenty to think about and a fairy cake with a nice rise to make it just a tiny bit sweeter.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Wednesday, August 5th, 2015, as a part of the Camden Fringe Festival.)

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One Response to “Review – “Pull Your Socks Up, Britain!” – Lotta Quizeen at the Camden Fringe”

  1. Christina Conti Says:

    love reading these in a way. as listening to peter york yesterday, there is a subversion in manners that may be to go the other way, as reading this and then considering theater in miami beach. very different. theater in miami beach relative to dignity erosion as land, whereas in england, dignity as keep calm and carry on. in miami beach, tourism is more carrion than sport luggage for the plane. alas, it would be wonderful to see this show as a reminder of what’s been lacking in theater here. thank you. dignity, integrity and humanity beyond Fleet Street rags or Fleet products to the Miami glory hole lens here. thank you.

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