Review of Maddy’s Many Mouths
By Maddy Anholt
The Canal Cafe Theatre, 03/08/11
When porn obsessed public school boy, Thomas Prism (Elliot Hadley) takes it upon himself to interview 12 women for his GCSE coursework, he doesn’t know what he’s let himself in for. Move over Alec Guinness, enter Maddy Anholt, impersonator extraordinaire. Over the course of the next hour we are introduced to a spectrum of sexy, shy, and insane women from all over the world, each one weirder than the last. Anholt’s ability to change roles is nothing short of phenomenal, her incredible talent for accents allowing her to switch character with consummate ease. Anholt excels at exhibiting feminine characteristics that the audience can identify with, from femme fatales to plain freaks, the dozen women are all scarily accurate. From the extreme male manipulation of Paloma Freel, all the way from Australia, aka Cougar town, to an unsettlingly authentic portrayal of little girl, Rebecca Sutherton, probing her Barbie; Anholt’s depictions are highly perceptive and consistently amusing.
Take sultry, yummy mummy, Saffron Uncaged, whose recent discovery of Buddhism seems more influenced by red wine than red robes, or the intense scientific, self examination of Dr Steely White, an American woman who would make your think twice of ever going to visit a psychiatrist. Anholt requires only a single prop to suggest her new incarnation, a wine glass will do for Saffron, lab coat for Dr Steely. Combined with Anholt’s brilliant accents and mannerisms, the objects become charged with the life of the characters, signalling the arrival of even more outlandish women.
Anholt’s portrayl of Muslim rude girl, Shariah Salaf is a hilarious send up of a ubiquitous presence on the top deck of a London bus. Anholt demonstrates through exaggeration the intrinsic humour of a character that we can all recognize. Only in the melting pot of London is it possible to see such contradictions in religion and attitude, and the effect of cultural influence on upbringing.
Anholt works best when she’s portraying dominant women. South African, Adrianna Van Niekerk for example is so overpowering you think she was going to put you in a headlock. Her way of speaking coincides brilliantly with her lifestyle. Dating for her makes her feel like she’s in a game reserve, with men seeing women like meat. Never one to mince her words, Niekerk is a tremendous character who has great potential. The more submissive roles such as the hermit, Edna Davies and the bespectacled Penny Saxton worked well, but were overshadowed by their more assertive counterparts. One difficulty Anholt faces, is in adapting the speed of such an energetic piece to find the right pace for the more submissive roles.
Elliot Hadley provides fine support, in the form of sex obsessed, public school boy, Thomas Prism, whose life lessons have him mopping his brow with excitement. The emphasis on sex jokes was perhaps a little too obvious and the women themselves were so intrinsically entertaining, they didn’t really need so many of Prism’s puerile comments.
Maddy’s Many Mouths is a fantastically entertaining show, which allows Anholt a perfect vehicle for her incredible talent for impersonation and accents. It is highly impressive to see one woman capable of portraying a dozen, without ever relying simply on stereotype, rather, she exploits the stereotypes to create fully fledged characters. It will be intriguing to see how Maddy’s Many Mouths develops, who knows with a bit of luck, rude girl, Shariah Salaf could be morphing into six year old Rebecca Sutherton next time you turn on your telly.