One and the Other (La Mama) – theatre review

Two women of a certain age do what women of a certain age don’t usually do – and love it – in One and the Other. We’re talking about circus acts. The show has a decidedly feminist slant and before the final act rolled around the #metoo movement was at the forefront of my mind.

Photo: Ponch Hawkes

When both strangely dressed performers took centre-stage at the start of the show, I wondered what the heck I was in for. One was in an elegant flowery dress and the other in black vest, red pants and gaudy runners. Both had paper bags on their heads. They proceed to juggle up to five hats.

One and the Other really comes into its own after that though. That’s when the duo – now sporting more demure attire – spread a tea party onto a couple of tray tables. With Sue Broadway balancing a full teapot on her head, her and Debra Batton’s next exchange is not only breathtaking, but hilarious. To say any more would be to spoil a delightful surprise.

When a bulked up Batton (think the Michelin man) appears and a voice over reels off a series of sporting triumphs, each one is accompanied by a t-shirt she’s wearing. She removes them – dozens of them – one by one. What Broadway achieves with five glass tumblers and five metals spoons has to be seen to be believed. Don’t try this at home, folks.

Photo: Ponch Hawkes

Let me just say that baring all presents no difficulty for these two bold and talented artistes who became friends working with Circus Oz in the 1990s. Twenty years on, they’re still at it.

Batton and Broadway devised this one-of-a-kind production that combines acerbic truths with audacious acts. A talented musician (Teresa Blake) accompanies the action. Directed by Clare Bartholomew, One and the Other – which runs about an hour –is playing at La Mama Courthouse in Carlton until 28 October 2018.

Alex First

Other reviews you might enjoy: