Katherine Tokley - Reviewer
had the true pleasure of attending the Dead Rabbit's Theatre Company's performance of Tiger Lady at Cramphorn theatre as part of the Chelmsford Fringe Festival on Saturday 27th of November. The director, Kasia Zaremba-Byrne, in a collaborative partnership with the performers, told us the little known story of Mabel Stark, the first female tiger tamer from America in the 1920's. Mixed with fact and fiction, the talented cast created a wonderful ensemble of characters distinguished by simple and slight costume changes and props which gave the cast the opportunity to show off their adaptable talents.
Their songs and characters evolved from collaboration with the directors guidance, hence their performance was self assured, and the cast were well bonded, taking cues quickly from each other and working seamlessly together.
This was devised theatre at its very best. The set is kept simple, props minimal, costumes practical, and depiction of the circuses felines symbolic and humorous. With such an intimate stage of the Cramphorn, the set style had the ability to seemingly fill the room with its it's raw, stylistic, shabby, humble fashion. The set designer overcame potentially complicated set changes by keeping things simple and allowing the audience to use their imagination with simple design.
It is hard to not give too much away as I really do not want to spoil the surprises the production has in store for its future audiences, but be prepared to be entranced and taken on a true journey with the eager, welcoming and engaging cast.
The story itself although based on true events in the 1920's are still sadly wildly relevant today. The young Mabel Stark only being allowed to train as a tiger tamer due to the revelation realised by the ring leader that he was able to exploit the unique selling point of having the first female tiger tamer in the world. As quickly as fame arrived it left, as is still the case today in the thousands seeking their five minutes of fame. I will not give away the ending as the Dead Rabbits will be touring this wonderful eclectic production. I can only recommend if you like fast-paced moving humorous, musically talented and interactive theatre this is a must see.