Directed by Stephen Carnell
Blood Moon Theatre, World Bar
24 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross
Season: 17 February – 5 March
A woman is at the races, waiting for a friend…when she doesn’t arrive she prepares to leave. Until she is captivated by a blonde siren, that is. Then the evening really changes its course. Stephen Carnell’s production of The Punter’s Siren is a pithy and gladdening play that embraces female sexuality and desire.
Jacqui Robson’s portrayal of Helen is awkward and endearing, with an inner monologue that is searingly honest. This style of Gina Schien’s writing provides an interesting and often amusing contrast between personal discourse on show to the public, and that which we keep very private. Robson’s focus and energy is astounding, that of which is only augmented by the close proxemics between stage and audience. She maintains an impressive vigour for the entirety of the performance, being thoroughly engaging for audiences to observe. Laura Viskovich feeds off Robson’s energy splendidly as Linda, sustaining a physical commitment to the role in light of having few lines, as Robson performs the majority of spoken lines in monologue form.
I think that a sign of a group’s perspective being incorporated firmly into mainstream culture is when we no longer feel the need to point out that the clearest voice in a work is not that of a white, heterosexual, able male. I, along with many others I’m sure, will be delighted when the time comes that we don’t have to jump up and down in surprised excitement when a story is told from the perspective of someone in a ‘minority group’ or voice usually sidelined in society. But the reality is that often stories on the stage and the screen do not represent our society accurately or well, privileging masculine and heteronormative ideas by default. It is on this basis (as well as its general theatrical finesse, of course) that I cheer for The Punter’s Siren, with a female protagonist who is a lesbian. Her sexual orientation is relatively inconsequential to the story told, which is an amusing and anecdotal journey through an afternoon of mishaps, sweet hopes and a monster of lust.
It is too rare that we embrace the notion of female sexual desire without the tainting lens of the male gaze. Schien’s script explores this in a written form that is simple and charming, brought to the stage wonderfully under Carnell’s direction. Take a punt, check it out for yourself.