Burnt Lemon Theatre are bringing a blast of punk to Zoo Southside with their new show, The Half Moon Shania. It’s 1999, the millennium awaits, and all-female group The G-Strings are playing a last-chance gig at the Half Moon pub. There’s an industry representative in the audience, and they know it.
As “Ketamine” Kerry, new-age-y Lola and business-minded Jill, Cara Baldwin, Laura Green and Catherine Davies fill the small studio space with energy. They sketch in their characters while maintaining a breathless chemistry with each other and the audience as the guitar-playing trio of sweary, ambitious punksters.
Also the show’s writer, Baldwin’s amped-up script enjoyably crashes together spoken-word poetry and gig-theatre. There’s not much subtlety here—the characters are as broad as their on-stage performances—but it’s fun and never lets up.
Director Hannah Benson’s production is stripped back and restless, staying in your face and loving it. This is a small show big on atmosphere, anchored by high-impact performances.
Then something awful happens to Lola and The Half Moon Shania veers into much darker territory. What are the others prepared to overlook for a chance of success within a male-run music industry? Squalid reality intrudes on their defiant lyrics.
But, frustratingly, Baldwin chooses to leave that question unanswered. An ambiguous descent into blackout might be intended as a challenge to the audience but it feels like a failure of nerve – a fudged ending to a bold show. The breathless trajectory of the writing and performances judders into inconclusiveness.