Observations: The Umbrella Birds reveal secret life of the High Street store changing room
Friday 24 July 2009
Anyone who has ever overheard, or more likely taken part in, loud, intimate conversations with friends while trying on clothes in a shop changing room is sure to see the funny side of the latest show by comedy quartet The Umbrella Birds. Titled Sketches in a Shop Changing Room, the show is previewing at London's Kings Place this Tuesday as part of the What Are You Laughing At festival, before heading up to Edinburgh for the Festival Fringe .
The four female comics, Emily Watson Howes, Kate Donmall, Susanna Hislop and Fran Moulds, explore scenarios that include an account manager chucking in her job to become a burlesque dancer, a terrifying wedding planner who squashes a bride's self-esteem, a woman with a fake baby and a sex-obsessed mother trying to share tips with her painfully shy daughter.
Such sketches are nothing new for the group, who debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe festival two years ago with their show WC in a real portable loo. It was based on conversations women have in loos when they're drunk and think no-one's listening. This was followed up with Gym, a series of sketches performed on cross-trainers, and the BBC Radio 4 show, The Ladies which returns next year.
Writer for the group Watson Howes says she started picking such specific venues because she was fascinated by what goes on in them. "People are after privacy but they're also incredibly nosy and everyone's insecurities and vanities come out. There's such a huge range of characters that these setting work really well," she explains. "I have spent a lot of time in cubicles and changing rooms with a notepad."
So be warned, the next time that you're trying on a new top, think twice before sharing those personal details with the whole changing room – you never know who might be listening to you.
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