Hands up who remembers Rock Follies? The TV series about three women trying to make it as a band, struggling in what’s traditionally seen as a man’s world?
Well, Tinderbox’s new production, Huzzies, is a bit like that. Only here, we have three woman and a token man with their eyes on the spotlight.
Award-winning playwright Stacey Gregg’s punchy script follows the band from its beginnings — practising on kazoos and recorders — to its end, complete with drums, electric guitar and keyboards. She has an ear for one-liners and deadly put-downs, and Huzzies is full of rich, Northern Ireland-based humour.
So who are Huzzies? Dee is the leader of the pack. Struggling to escape a dysfunctional family life, she puts all her energy into music.
She’s joined by Claire, a Christian disguised as a Goth, too timid to follow her dream. And Shona is the posh one, completely certain how her future should look — a law practice and suits from Zara.
Oh, and there’s Peter, too. He only joined the band to get a girlfriend, and who would be fourth fiddle if he didn’t play the guitar.
Tinderbox director Michael Duke says Huzzies explores the friendship between the girls, and the pressures on them to conform.
“There’s something in the strength of the female characters that’s very important,” he says.
“It’s not a girl band of harmony singers. They write their music and play their own instruments so there is something there about the strength and talent of those women which comes through.”
The show’s music is written by a woman too. Katie Richardson — of Katie and the Carnival fame — has composed a couple of numbers especially for Tinderbox.
The show should get audiences rocking in their seats, if not the aisles. The dream would surely be that Huzzies would play a real gig in the future. After all, look how well The Monkees did.
Huzzies plays at The MAC in Belfast until November 3
Picks of the day
Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Victoria Square
British singer and cellist Ayanna will be performing at a series of pop-up public gigs around the city during festival. She’s at Victoria Square this afternoon. Ayanna was the first non-American to win the Amateur Night Live at the Harlem Apollo, putting her in the company of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin. Shoppers and music-lovers will be beguiled by her singing and playing — her version of Roxanne will give you goosebumps.
Death on a Shoestring, Baby Grand
Accidental Theatre make their festival debut with this tale of political correctness in paradise. Everything’s been heavenly — until Cecilia Malarkey decides to overhaul the values system inside the pearly gates. As she prepares to banish technicalities like religious discrimination and sin, those around her prepare to move heaven and hell to revert to the good old days of Christians and meek men first.
Agent 160, Black Box
Agent 160 produces work from female playwrights based right across the UK. The company takes its name from Aphra Behn, the first woman to earn her living as a playwright. She was also a spy, whose codename was Agent 160. There’s multi-tasking for you ... not sure if there’ll be any Jane Bonds around the Black Box, but this showcase will demonstrate that women don’t only write domestic plays. That’s as daft as saying men only write about guns and hunting for bears. And who’d do that?