Theatre Review: The Speed Twins - Riverside Studios 3 ✭✭✭

The Speed Twins 
Riverside Studios 3 
Review by Claire Spence

Maureen Chadwick, the writer behind outrageous shows such as Bad Girls, Footballers Wives and Waterloo Road, established Big Broad Productions after leaving Shed Media Group; a creatively-led theatre production company with a strong diversity agenda and a focus on new writing, the first of which is The Speed Twins.

The set is a replica of the old lesbian haunt, The Gateway Club (1931-1985), which, with Dusty Springfield on the jukebox and an endless supply of free booze, is ‘Dyke Heaven’. The jukebox holds court stage right with the bar over to stage left. Hanging bottles of spirits mark the era with the now defunct White Horse and Cinzano making an appearance.

Queenie, (Polly Hemmingway) dressed as a beauty queen, stumbles into a smokey bar when the jukebox suddenly kicks into life and the dulcet tones Springfield’s, Be With You breaks the silence. But Queenie is not alone…

Hemmingway’s at times slapstick portrayal was, I felt, too big for the space. Yet she did go through a journey and she took you with her. Mia Mackie’s portrayal of a 70+ woman sometimes lacked maturity and self-knowledge and even though she was in a younger body I didn’t believe she possessed an older mind. Jodie Foster in Freaky Friday is an example of someone who encapsulates this. Her newness to the stage showed, but to her defence she did have two stalwarts to contend with. However, it was Amanda Boxer, dressed as Oliver Hardy as a nod to the infamous scene between Susannah York and Beryl Reid in the film The Killing of Sister George, who stood out as Ollie, the butch alcoholic who’s always out the get the girl. You’ll do a double take when she comes on at the end as the Nurse.

There were many references of notorious lesbian activists and activities, which were lost on me, but overall the play’s constant one-liners are amusing. In fact one line about whipping excited one audience member, which, in turn, amused everyone else!

It’s interesting that a man directs a ‘lesbian’ play, written by a woman with an all-female cast. And at times I felt Simon Evans’ direction lacked some of the femininity that is screaming from this play. But a good job was done overall.

The Riverside Studios is a great venue, however, Studio 3 was extremely hot and I couldn’t wait to hit the riverside terrace during the interval for some much needed coolness. The only issue being it made re-entering the studio slightly more unbearable and the play appeared the drag on because of this. However, it could afford to be 30 minutes shorter but I’m sure the show will tighten during the run of the play.

The lighting and sound successfully add to the eeriness of the play especially the stoking up of the jukebox. There are lovely visual effects with a few shock moments. The costume and makeup were flawless especially when Queenie makes a shock revelation.

This show will have people talking for all the right reasons and I believe is an important ones for gays, lesbians, bi-curious and us boring hetros’ to see.

3 Stars

Listings info ✭✭✭

Crisp Road
W6 9RL

BOX OFFICE 020 8237 1111

Thursday 29 August – 
Saturday 28 September

Tuesday - Saturday at 7.45pm
Thursday & Saturday at 3.00pm 
Sunday at 5.00pm

Tickets £22.50 (£15.00 concs.)
Early Bird: £17.50
2-4-1 tickets on all previews 
29 August – 1 September*  
*not including Saturday 31, 
and subject to availability