Review: ‘Pramkicker’ by Taffety Punk Theatre Company

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Imagine a pram catapulting down the stairs and the sweet instant of satisfaction that the kick initiates. A fragment of a second later, the realization of the tumble hits home. The kick is, after all, more than a mere swing of the leg. Preceding the kick, because it didn’t come out of nowhere, is the congestion of too many prams in your way when you just want to go about your business. There’s a backstory to explore and Pramkicker, presented by Taffety Punk Theatre Company and directed by Linda Lombardi, delivers both past and present through insightful acting in a concise and effective setting.

Tonya Beckman (Susie) and Esther Williamson (Jude) in Pramkicker, now playing at Taffety Punk Theatre Company. Photo by Teresa Castracane.
Tonya Beckman (Susie) and Esther Williamson (Jude) in Pramkicker, now playing at Taffety Punk Theatre Company. Photo by Teresa Castracane.

Pramkicker, by award-winning playwright and actor Sadie Hasler tells the story of two sisters, Susie, played by Tonya Beckman, and Jude, played by Esther Williamson, in present-day England. They are women with an intimate relationship, and with the personal bond of siblings that have grown up together. Time shifts between the present and past with memories that circulate from childhood, through Jude leaving home, the intervening years, and the present day.

The play opens with pram kicker, Jude, sent to anger management class following her arrest. Audience seated on the sides of the performing space become, to the delight of those watching from the risers, instantaneous anger class members and offer up authentic response. The two sisters engage in a sequence by Fight Director Lorraine Ressegger-Slone. Sound design by Kenny Neal and light design by Chris Curtis compliment and conspire to add to the comedy and to the punch. A discussion about what you can’t “un-see” adds a bit of reality to the childbearing myth.

Childhood recollections are oddly relatable, as in the courgette (zucchini) and potato phase; replacing a doll’s body with the vegetable. Later, back to the present day, we discover the basket of doll heads placed on screwdrivers and pliers. What a great laugh to share.

Other experiences paint a picture of past relationships, made real as characters transform by slipping on a different sweater, vest or jacket, wisely selected by Costume Designer Heather C. Jackson. When Susie dons a red jacket, we see and hear her as Jude’s old boyfriend Jason. Tonya Beckman’s masculine swagger offers a glimpse into a relationship that slipped away for Jude, an encounter filled with wonder about what might have been, and a question about self-worth.

Recollections fall back to the teenage years. Choreographer Kelly King hits a home run with a bedroom imitation of the romantic final dance from “Dirty Dancing” with the dramatic lift at the end.

Childfree, childless, massive baby carriers, misread signals, no means no, and so much more combine in this interweaving story that is a tale of women, personal yet comprehensive, provoking thoughts, feelings, and experiences shared by so many.

Taffety Punk Theatre Company has taken on the mission of making theatre affordable.  This production is well worth the price of a ticket, and really several tickets. It doesn’t get better than this. When they set out the donation bucket at the end, step right up.

Running Time: 70 minutes, with no intermission.

Pramkicker plays through September 29, 2018, at Taffety Punk Theatre Company performing at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop – 545 7th Street SE, Washington, DC. For tickets, purchase them at the door or go online.

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Jane Franklin
Jane Franklin received a MFA from The Ohio State University as a University Fellow and certification from the Laban/Bartenieff Institute for Movement Studies. Jane Franklin’s choreography has been presented at multiple venues and festivals in the mid-Atlantic region and southwestern US and internationally in the UK and in Mexico. A recipient of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region Creative Communities Award, Jane has developed innovative and collaborative projects combining dancers with the round wall skateboarding community, with a life size kinetic sculpture, with the architecture of a specific site, with dogs & owners, and with interactive live video and sound for numerous public art projects.

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