Review: Camp Be Yourself by BOX Theatre

★★★
theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 14 Aug 2018
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Camp Be Yourself

School’s over, summer’s here and the annual American ritual that is holiday camp gets a good raking over in this toothsome spoof from BOX Theatre. “If you can’t be yourself in the world,” the camp motto creaks, “you Camp Be Yourself in here.”

Camp leaders Emily and Betsy are at the helm, youthful ex-campers way out of their depth. All unalloyed enthusiasm, bunched pigtails and strained smiles, they’re caught between chaperone duties and camp fun. Conceited Betsy, a self-proclaimed “triple threat", can’t help but show off, and it causes cracks in her bestie Emily’s sunny demeanour – even before anyone mentions the bears.

Think Saturday Night Live does Hi-de-Hi!. Played with real zeal and shameless stupidity, Camp Be Yourself is still more an extended sketch than a fully-formed show, a series of snapshots of chaotic camp assemblies. It’s “super-fun", but there’s not nearly enough narrative structure to sustain as a play. While it nudges a number of issues facing American teenage girls, from adolescent sexualisation to anxieties around gender, it’s largely a featherweight hour of big and broad LOLs: the beginnings of a BBC3 sitcom like Summer Heights High.

To get there, it needs a fair bit of fleshing out and, at present, Camp Be Yourself works best as character comedy. The script wrings most of its mileage out of inappropriate innuendo and awful advice, but Betty Jane Walsh and Emilia Stawicki have the chemistry of a crack double act.