Set in a brilliant choice of venue at La Mama, the show set the atmosphere early. Even without Anna on stage, the audience was immediately curious about the creative yet odd props and set design that covered the stage. Once the show began, it got weird…quickly.
After first being introduced to Anna’s performance style in PO PO MO CO, I had an inkling of what would be in store. That said, ‘Madame Nightshade’s Poison Garden’ left me speechless for very different reasons. For one, it appeared the show was tailored to finding that balance between audience enjoyment and unease about was happening on stage. The key being, no one knew what Anna would do next.
Anna’s use of movement to draw the audience in was creative and well executed. It is a difficult challenge to hold a whole audience’s attention with a simple glance or the movement of the wrists but Anna succeeded. Further, the more active audience participation elements of the show were upfront but done in good faith. We were fairly warned that members in the front row might be…involved to some degree. In all aspects of the show, the more energy the audience gave, the more fun they had.
While I enjoyed the nuanced writing and clowning elements of the show, the ‘grotesque’ parts of ‘Madame Nightshade’s Poison Garden’ were not my favourite. This is more to my taste in comedy than Anna’s execution. She had tremendous commitment to her vision (including the mess this would create), and appeared to have a clear understanding of how she wanted the audience to feel.
Check out Anna Thomson in ‘Madame Nightshade’s Poison Garden’ from 27 September to 1 October 2017. For more information and to book tickets, click here.