Meet Kate. She’s a skank. Stuck in a job she hates, Kate dreams of being a writer. Anything to get away from her irritating co-workers; Anal Annie, Linda (who has the world’s most awful laugh), and a boss with seeds stuck in his teeth. As a relief from her mind-numbing job, she investigates which of her colleagues have watched porn on their computers, attends knitting classes, and imagines ways that she can ensnare Sexy Gary.
“Not even a fresh batch of anal beads could cheer me up.”
Playwright Clementine Bogg-Hargroves carries the entire play on her own, playing Kate, with all other characters realised through amusing voice overs. The fact that Bogg-Hargroves wrote Skank is evident as she clearly cares for her character. Kate is entirely believable, being meticulously rendered with the utmost thoughtfulness. At no point does this play feel like a recital of lines. Bogg-Hargroves embodies Kate, providing the audience with an amusing character they can identify with. A Bridget Jones figure, Kate is a woman struggling with her identity and finding the right man.
With excellent direction from Zoey Barnes, Bogg-Hargroves has flawless comic delivery, dropping killer dance moves, pelvic thrusts, and cheeky asides to the audience. She is so skilled as a comic actor, that Skank could quite easily be a stand-up, observational comedy routine. It is certainly hilarious enough to be performed at The Comedy Club.
As a playwright, Bogg-Hargroves has an incredible skill of turning the mundane into fine comedy. Kate’s passion for recycling results in her carrying around an empty tin of Aldi baked beans for the entire show. At a work’s party, she smuggles in miniature Smirnoff and drinks it from her bean can. A trip to the doctors for a smear test turns into a spat with the rude receptionist.
However, it is in Skank‘s more tender moments that her talent as a playwright, and actor, shines through. The results of Kate’s smear test show that she has abnormal cells which could be cancerous. It is at this moment that Bogg-Hargroves perfectly captures the fear every woman feels when they receive their smear results. The numbness and shock she portrays when she hears “the C word” is rendered with absolute sensitivity.
The only time in the play that we see Kate subdued is when she attends her colposcopy. This is poignantly portrayed without the need for dialogue. It is Bogg-Hargroves’ mannerisms that speak a thousand words. As tears run down her face, reaching out for the nurse’s hand to hold, bean can placed on her stomach, this moment reveals the vulnerability and fear of a character who has been indomitable until this point.
Wickedly funny, yet touching, Skank is a magnificent debut play, brilliantly constructed and impeccably performed by Clementine Bogg-Hargroves. It shows Kate isn’t actually a skank. In fact, her life is not that dissimilar to our own.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Skank is running at Tribeca as part of the GM Fringe festival.