Stephanie McNeil and Helen Ekin have written, produced and designed a new show in which they perform as cousins Chantal and Georgia.
Directed by Harris Albar, this is billed as a black LGBT+ comedy. However, the comedy could be handled with stronger pacing and a tighter script, while the queer angle seemed forced by fashion by at least one of the characters.
A more interesting thread would be how the other one overcomes her unsupportive mother and culturally distant father to get past the hurdle of being happy.
Georgia, slightly older and living on her own, acts in loco parentis for 16 year-old Chantal, from doing her make-up to making sure she is OK. At moments her arc is tragic, and Ekin handles both this and nervous new love convincingly.
Chantal affects a fake gangland accent and ‘am I bothered’ attitude to mask the fact she’s really not, just a frightened and immature girl. McNeil captures this facet of her character really well.
A leather jacket, a tin of spaghetti hoops, and dating are the key elements in this play, but with a lot of locations, phone calls, and off-stage characters, it could do with a fair bit of tightening up.
Hoops and Hookups is very believable when considering how teens and twenty-somethings interact, but needs more consideration of which story facets are the most important.
Although one scene is set in the club where Georgia works, making cocktails, I wasn’t sure why she had to work there, nor, if she appears so uptight and proper, why she has a stash of recreational drugs at home.
Far too many story arcs are going on though, both romantic and familial, some are dead ends and some irrelevant. Both girls have been used by their families which gives them a defensive bond.
There’s an undertone here of fantasy being better than life, and living on the never never being better than earning money honestly and joining the human race.
These girls have a story which could easily be teased out and built on. I look forward to seeing it further develop.
Hoops and Hookups returns to the Hope Theatre as part of Camden Fringe on 22-24 August. Purchase your tickets here.