Too Much Punch For Judy at Upstairs at the Gatehouse review: “Fresh, entertaining and highly relevant”
- Credit: Archant
Anyone wishing for a roller coaster emotional ride at the Camden Fringe need go no further than the true life tale of a teenager who killed her sister in an alcohol-related drink/driving accident.
Too Much Punch For Judy is a powerful verbatim play from Mark Wheeller which centres on the relationship between sisters Jo and Judy and the tragic consequences of a night out.
The drama, from JR Theatre Company, kicks off with high energy laughs from the two sisters, their mum Vi, their friends, establishing their close bond and the girls’ love of booze.
Dancing at their favourite wine bar two men with cheesy chat up lines try to win them over and offer to buy them a drink. “Make mine a white wine,” shouts Judy over the music, “Make that a bottle,” adds her sister. “Each!” they chorus.
Then the car crash, in slow motion, death reigning down on Jo in the passenger seat as the Carpenter’s We’ve Only Just Begun blares from the radio.
You may also want to watch:
In truth the car is just a box; the set is very sparse, a photograph of the vehicle projected on a screen bringing home the horror.
All the performances are superb from Alice Imelda’s gobby Judy and Alana Ramsey’s happy-go-lucky Jo to Richard Blackman’s sober retelling as first witness (as well as louche Lothario Nob in the wine bar).
- 1 'Family unit': 28 Church Row wins readers' favourite restaurant
- 2 O2 Centre redevelopment: Decision draws on Camden planning guidance
- 3 Crouch End salesman who nursed mum runs marathon for Diabetes UK
- 4 Haringey Green Lanes flat fire sees 40 firefighters tackle blaze
- 5 Explore 8 of north London's prettiest streets
- 6 'Lobster-like creature' pulled from Hampstead Heath ladies' pond
- 7 For sale: Suggs' former 'bachelor pad' with gold-gilded underground bar
- 8 Anger as second audit into £23m 'Mary Celeste' office block is delayed
- 9 Met Office issues yellow warning for heavy showers in London
- 10 Free festival to take over the streets of Camden
Vi, played by Hilary Burns, is heartbreaking and so too Edward Mitchell’s grief-stricken PC Chris Caten, the family friend, who is forced to break the news of Jo’s death to her mother, then to Judy.
The play, with all the words taken from interviews of those involved at the time, is now in its 30th year.
Even with a pulsating 80’s soundtrack it is fresh, entertaining and as highly relevant today as it was when first aired in 1987.
Verbatim dramas often pack a punch with their intensity and this one doesn’t disappoint. Prepare to be knocked out.
£12 (£10 conc)
Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate Village, 21-27 August.