“I want those who get to know me to become admirers of my enemies” chants Adam Ant to introduce to the spotlight Helen Pepper-Smith. Though a ‘seasoned’ performer, this is the first play she has also written, produced along with her collaborator Susanne Crosby.
Having climbed to such heights, occupying a week long residency on the top floor of Jury’s Inn, it seems a shame that only a small audience turn up to take in tonight’s show; Antmusic for six people (S.I.X., quite literally).
With an Ant-infatuation to rival that even of my big sister (who I blame entirely for my interest ever since), Helen uses his music to tell a story fictitious though entirely feasible and peppered with references to her own life experiences. Over the next fifty minutes, we see her stand and deliver the story of a woman downtrodden by a conveyor belt of dead end jobs, ultimately coming to terms with her own redundancy, proffered as a “fresh opportunity” in a manner more laughable than lamentable. She does seem genuinely emotional remembering her younger spirit; “You’ve got to know what you want and grab it with both hands.”
As Helen and her character evolve, various costume changes punctuate the scenes, during which we are interstitially played burst of various ‘Anthems’. Amongst all the obvious, the obscure are also entertained with B-Side Red Scab amongst those namedropped. Even earlier Whip in My Valise recurs as a theme as Helen’s more erotic urges surface occasionally. Antmusic was always for ‘sex people’ after all.
A search for her ultimate Prince Charming permeates the dialogue, through failed attempts at online dating and real-world rendezvous. Also unrequited are her aspirations in acting, potentially motivated by Ant’s own predilection for the profession in his chosen suitors (Heather Graham, Jamie Lee Curtis and Amanda Donahoe to name but three). A play is also written by Helen’s character, converging with her off-stage persona perhaps, but in a single-minded attempt to catch Ant’s eye. In both sound and vision, the man himself does appear tonight to the delight of both her and her audience but finally as Friend or Foe?
Antling, theSpace @Jury’s Inn – Main Theatre, 8:20pm, Until 25th August