THE FULL BRONTE
The Full Bronte, described as a homage to the Bronte family, combines dusty literature with juicy cabaret
A review by Tanya Howard
Rebecca Mordan takes on the role of Maria, the glamour puss and thespian, a lover of all things Bronte who also feels a great need to hold the audience’s attention so as to be taken seriously as an actor. Sharon Andrews plays Brannie who feels like she has the strongest connection to the Bronte’s what with being named after Branwell Bronte himself and being from Cornwall where Maria, the mother of the Bronte sisters, was born. She is also essentially the entire remaining cast and crew, taking on the role of Marie’s ensemble, backstage crew and general dogsbody.
Combining comedy and music with Bronte facts the show attempts to portray significant characters, events and poems from the notable works and lives of the Bronte sisters and is perfect for literature enthusiasts, theatre lovers and every devoted Brontephile… or Brontesaurus. The stage is set up as different sections, with a music corner, a props corner in the middle of the stage is the Bronte chalkboard filled with names and references to the sisters.
Over in music corner we are treated to a rendition of Withering Heights by Maria, not before Brannie asks her if she is sure she wants to perform that piece as the notes do get very high. We also see Maria perform The Bluebell, a poem by Anne Bronte, which she brings herself to tears with and has to leave us to go sort out her mascara leaving Brannie to entertain us all. She performs for us what she refers to as “the classics”, including Don’t You Want Me by Human League (who are from Cornwall where Mumma Maria was born remember) and as she is in the midst of singing Black Lace’s We’re Having A Gangbang Maria kicks us out of music corner.
There is tension between Maria and Brannie when it comes to Yorkshire versus Cornwall as being the true connection to the Bronte sisters, with Brannie digging her heels in that if Mumma Maria was born in Cornwall and is the head of the family then that’s where the Brontes hail from with Maria arguing that the Bronte sisters who published the books and the poems were born and raised in Yorkshire. At one point Brannie breaks into song with The White Rose, a Cornish folk song, and Maria askes the audience what is happening, is she trying to sing?
The audience was told on arrival that at times we would be required to get involved in the show and whilst those who were not sat front row thought they could sigh with relief they were very wrong as Maria and Brannie made their way into the audience fully interweaving through the rows. I was used as a human shield between the duo, we found out the contents of one of the audience member’s bag, Maria helped some audience members finish their drinks but we all fared well in comparison to Colin.
The best sport of the night was definitely Colin, whose arm was used for kissing practice as Brannie needed to be prepared to take on the role of Mr Rochester, although when she licked his arm fully some may say it went too far, but for us we were all too busy laughing to do so. It was all a bit of fun though and we got rewarded with Bronte flavoured crisps after, I had Charlotte flavour which remarkably tasted like Ready Salted.
Truly ready her role of Mr Rochester Brannie is told by Maria to get ready for bed and suddenly we are flashed by Brannie who thought she meant literally take your clothes off and get ready for bed. Sitting in the front row Maria looked me in the eye and said this poor girl, first Brexit and now this, her future is ruined. Throughout the show there were many more light-hearted jibes and banter with the audience and comedic interludes, but they flowed so well within the show that it worked really well together.
At one-point Brannie has to go get changed after Maria throws a glass of water at her and comes out dressed in a Victorian style gown but Maria still expects her to play all the male characters in the sketches but Brannie finds subtle ways to worm her way into the leading lady role. Feeling pushed aside in the show Maria takes a seat in the audience and tells Brannie the stage is hers and what I never expected was for her to then rap about the Brontes to us. For all the jokes surrounding the songs, both ladies are really good singers (and rappers in Sharon’s case) and it makes the comedic elements even more entertaining.
Worried that her career as an actor has now been ruined Maria is ready to give it all up and leave until Brannie creates a challenge where she will give clues and we have to guess the reference from the chalkboard and we have to tick them all off before the egg timer runs out. Saving both their careers we are taught different bowing techniques that the theatre world use and are then asked to vote on which one we would like the ladies to end the show with, the winner being the Royal Ballet bow, and suddenly and sadly that’s the show over.
Scary Little Girls is an English production hub based in London and Cornwall, with work revolving around literary and matri-focal themes, alongside comedy and cabaret work with predominately female casts. Run by Artistic Directors Sharon Andrews and Rebecca Mordan, they have been described as “the anarchic love-child of French and Saunders and Hinge and Bracket” and whilst I don’t know who Hinge and Bracket are, I couldn’t agree more in regard to French and Saunders.
The show was thoroughly enjoyable, and the entire audience spent most of the 80 minutes running time in hysterics. Sharon and Rebecca are a great partnership and brought us an entertaining, funny and, if like me you don’t know a lot about the Brontes, factual show. I am excited to see what the future holds for The Scary Little Girls and think they are going to go far.