THE MYSTERIOUS SHORTS/FRANCES, MATHILDA AND TEA by the Independent Aunties (Passe Muraille/Obsidian Theatre). Runs to November 6. See Theatre: Continuing for details. Rating: NNN
Absurd humour and existential questions about women's roles rule the latest outing by the Independent Aunties at Theatre Passe Muraille , a double bill written by Anna Chatterton , Karin Randoja and Evalyn Parry . In Frances, Mathilda And Tea , Mathilda (Parry) and Frances (Chatterton), two dowager Victorian nutters, celebrate their dead mum's b-day with a sequence of parlour games designed to humiliate each other. "Black humour á la Sartre's No Exit meets the mania of Faulty Towers" is the best way I can describe it; it comments on the hell that is other people with all the flouncing, pouting and fruitless raging of a John Cleese.
The Mysterious Shorts is a topsy-turvy examination of 2oth-century feminism. It starts with Gertrude Stein and alter ego Alice B. Toklas pondering their identities, and quickly moves into three more vignettes set at 20-year intervals, featuring women at crossroads.
My fave, the scene set in the 60s, features Chatterton as Petronella, a bored housewife who calls on the powers of über-femme Superstacked (Parry with a set of supertits) to free her, cleverly setting up the superhero/housewife dichotomy with more sight gags than a history prof trying to make the topic more interesting could ever muster.
I do question some of the timing, the only fault in director Randoja's otherwise snappy pacing. Scene changes run out of gas, leaving the audience hanging while Chatterton and Parry manoeuvre parts of the set.