Posts Tagged ‘Lotta Quizeen’

Review (Edinburgh Preview) – Fallout – Lotta Quizeen at Bread and Roses Theatre

July 18, 2018

Oh what a long journey we have taken with Lotta Quizeen since that first show at the Battersea Arts Center to last night’s show at the Bread and Roses. I’ve gone from immigrant to citizen in the intervening years, and I’ve had helpful indoctrination in British customs and culture, including being exposed to the phenomenon of Fanny Cradock (as well as being taught why one does not wear a “fanny pack” but rather a “bum bag”).

I still don’t understand a lot about how people operate here, but I understand apocalpyse preparation AND domestic violence, so I was ready for the full experience of Lotta Quizeen’s guided trip through a proper lady’s nuclear bunker. We were introduced to a variety of different long-lived food stuffs, given our rota, and warned about the dogs. Alongside this, our extremely charming hostess (so fetching with her camouflage hair wrap!) gave us some insight into her domestic situation, which led (somehow inevitably) to a live action dating for the post-nuclear bomb world. Those grandbabies had to come from somewhere, and apparently my girlfriend was up for being a potential breeder (to her surprise).

As the lights flickered and dimmed, and the barking of the dogs outside became more ominous, we found ourselves peering into a world of fear and doubt. It seemed it was about our future; but it was really about the inside of Ms Quizeen’s head. Her world had been turned upside down. It was the end of everything. She still wanted order and manners, but somewhere, behind the scenes, it had fallen apart. And we were there while it (rather explosively in the case of some of the props) blew up in our faces. This world, this world of hiding and lying and pretending, is just as real in America as it is for people here, and I completely understood where Lotta was coming from. She had unwillingly been pulled into the heart of darkness, and it was then end of everything. A wild journey and one I was glad to be able to take with her.

This is the way the world ends/ This is the way the world ends/ This is the way the world ends – not with a bang but a whimper.

(“Fallout” is currently previewing around London and is next at The Bunker. It will be formally opening at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as a part of the Free Festival.)

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

August 8, 2015

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.)

Review – Shelf Life – Lotta Quizeen at the Battersea Arts Center (then theSpace at Surgeons Hall, Edinburgh)

August 5, 2013

Idly poking through the inbox of my Webcowgirl Twitter account, I found this strange message from @domesticbits: “Wonder if you fancy a bit of domesticity?” Well, yes, of course I do, as the “counter culture housewife of the nineties” (per A.J. Epstein): but the link attached was for a show of some sort at the Battersea Arts Center. “Mrs Lotta Quizeen uses the rituals, responsibilities and realities of domesticity (traditionally dismissed as women’s work) to entertain, educate and amuse you.” Hmm! It sounded like an ironic/comedic/poking fun kind of thing – with a feminist slant I thought would appeal to my weekend houseguest (and me). I admit, I wasn’t sure who “Fanny Craddock” was, but I figured what with my exposure to Julia Child and Martha Stewart I could probably bridge the cultural gap.

As it turns out, this show was far more confusing for an American than I expected: the constant jokes about her missing husband Johnnie sailed right over my head, and I’m still puzzled about the tiny moments of spotlit song (“I love being a housewife and keeping things tidy” seemed to be the theme). But rather than try to slot it into my cultural references, I just enjoyed what was going on, and found myself having rather a lot of laughs during a a 50 minute show that was packed as tightly as a nun’s (lunch) box. (This bad joke would not have been out of place.)

A lot of what happened was participatory, starting from when we were greeted as we entered (wearing name tags: I was “Vixen” as I was still pretty excited about the previous night’s trip to see Saucy Jack), then served sweeties at our neatly dressed tables by our charming (and bodacious) hostess. She talked a bit about her view of being a good homemaker, with interesting asides into Britishness, Europe, and rather more than the occasional double entendre. As the event continued, we were roped into a series of housework related, audience-staffed competitions that became more and more hilarious as, to be blunt, they lost their hold on double entendre and became just rude. I couldn’t restrain myself from getting in on the action and dipping my finger into the creamy topping of a banana pudding: “It’s clear why you’re married!” Mrs Quizeen announced. We were all losing it by the end: young gay men, elderly couples, middle-aged theater goers, and burnt out bohemians alike. I have to imagine that in the bustle of the Edinburgh fringe festival this will be a popular show, as it’s such a change from passively watching plays or plain old sketch comedy. Lotta Quizeen has a unique thing going and, well, I’ll never be able to fold a napkin without giggling again.

(This review is for an Edinburgh preview performance that took place at the Battersea Arts Center on Saturday, August 3, 2013. Lotta Quizeen’s Domestic Bits will be remounted at the Surgeon’s Hall in Edinburgh from August 12th to August 17th.)