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Legs Up — Review

The Bell Pettigrew Museum is quite an odd and distracting place to hold a play production in. However, for Legs Up, a play about the exhibition of ourselves in both the physical and emotional sense, it was the perfect backdrop. The neolithic skeletons of animals stare down at you ominously, reminding you of how little time you have actually spent on earth. Director Piper Richardson and Playwright/Director Loulou Sloss both agreed that Bell Pettigrew turned out to be ‘unsettling but perfect.’ The atmosphere beforehand was great, a buzz of chatter filtered around the room, and it was very obvious that anticipation was high for the production.


The opening scene brilliantly captured a rather awkward silence that made me feel as if I was gearing up for my own waxing session. Regina, played by Scarlett Tew, potters in to set up her wax studio and prepare for her day, intermittently scrolling on TikTok and flicking through ‘Crime and Punishment.’ The entrance of each client after this was strong and defined, outlining their personality before they had even started speaking. Client one, Sam, played by Sofia Hattiangadi, ran in like a deer in headlights. Client two, Trish, played by Daisy Paterson, swanned in with an air of importance and refused to even stop her work to undress herself for the wax. The final client, Jenny, played by Nicole Sellew, opened with yogi warmth, treating Regina like a long lost sister. This structure was highly effective and created a strong grounding for character development. 

 

Richardson commented that the ‘logistics of figuring out how to have women's vaginas out on stage were really something!’ The solution to that was both inventive and comedic with skin-coloured tights and Maison Margiela Spring Couture 2024-esque cardboard merkins. The costuming was great, and watching the clients sense of style develop over time, along with their personality and story line, was a strong creative device. 

 

My only qualm with this production is that I am left craving more character development from Regina the waxing lady. I feel she fell slightly short of her potential. Regina only had one defined monologue that came right at the end. There were multiple instances of silence between appointments, this could have been used to develop the interiority of the character. The small glimpses into her mind and her ending monologue captured something that definitely should have defined the play more than it did. 

 

The choice to write Regina in with a defined non-American accent was a little too stereotypical to me, and thus made it harder to push real development out of the character. As a play which had the opportunity to explore the interior lives of women in working class positions, the choice to separate Regina from other characters through accent came across misjudged. It is not the accent in question, it is more of the distraction that the mismatch between appearance and voice created. In order to break the barrier between the internal and external exploration of Regina, a less predefined character mode would have been more effective. 

 

Overall, another strong comedic set up from People You Know, even if I am left a little out of the know with Regina, the main character. If this truly was about exploring the mindset of a waxing lady and her clients, it fell slightly flat with me. There were however some great one liners, lots of giggles and some successful production choices. I look forward to the next People You Know Production, ‘TOAST,’ and am intrigued at what angle they will access next.


Graphic by Emma Dalton

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