Sunday 24 September 2023

Eighteen review

There aren't many 30 year olds who can say they've been friends for 18 years but Caitlyn Staples and Tiana Hogben are two of these. Having met at high school, the two have been thick as thieves, and with their sketch comedy / musical theatre show Eighteen, the duo lets us know just how deep this friendship runs.

They recall their time being obligated to perform in questionable student theatre productions concerning issues such as AIDS, refugees, teenage pregnancy and drug addiction, and we are ... fortunate enough to get a recreation of these scripts.

There are sprinkles of Pen15 awkwardness as we flashback to Staples and Hogben as their former teen selves in debating competitions and speaking to their parents during a school play and that comes down to the shared history they have. They know each other's strengths and how to make the other person look good. There are musical numbers that present glimpses of the quirky and offbeat humour these two have, and this is when Eighteen was at its unique best. Turkeys will forever be linked to this show.

Other elements of their lives are covered in a combination of anecdotal retellings and clever sketches, such as the purchase of a first bra from Bras N Things (with an emphasis on the N Things) and two PE teachers conspiring to unmask the truth behind Tiana's constant period preventing her from taking part in sport. Given Eighteen is exploring their relationship, it would have been great to see a bit more of their adult friendship, as there would no doubt be plenty of notable events and experiences that they have had together in the last decade.

I attended Eighteen with a friend of just over a year, but as we left the venue, we were instantly talking about what our show could be like in 17 years. Until then, we have Staples and Hogben to thank for allowing us to add another fun memory to our friendship quilt.

Eighteen was performed at The Motley Bauhaus 22 - 23 September 2023.

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