The Girl in the Grate is a one woman storytelling show written and performed by Cathianne Hall at the London Irish Centre as part of the Camden Fringe.
A single story, also titled The Girl in The Grate, makes up the bulk of the performance and sets the kitsch, swinging sixties tone and theme for the evening. This is the tale of Bradford lass Lucy Green who finds herself at something of an impasse in life. Lucy hires a life coach and tries speed dating, but it’s only after getting the heel of her shoe jammed in a drain cover that her life begins to change. Lucy imagines herself as the central character in a 60’s ‘Girl About Town’ sitcom and she reframes her dilemma in that light.
Midway through the story we are shown a pitch-perfect filmed title sequence for Lucy’s sitcom. filmed in Bradford by Neil McLarty, with a theme tune by Hannah Magenta, and starring Cathianne in a variety of excellent retro outfits. Rather than breaking the mood of the live storytelling, this beautiful crafted footage provides a natural break and sets the scene for the rest of the tale, which ultimately Lucy finds you have to get stuck to become unstuck.
Following Lucy’s story there is the chance for the audience to win some genuine sixties, kitsch goodies such like Charlie perfume (just as disgusting as you remember) and huge sunglasses. This section gave the audience a chance to relax and interact and we also got to know Cathianne better, who confirms our suspicions that she been influence from a young age by the kind of sitcom Lucy imagines. Cathianne also shares some hilarious wisdom for single girls from no lesser source than some Babycham coasters.
In contrast to the bright and breezy style of the main section of the show, in the last part we treated to a short new story inspired by the venue we are sat in. Cathianne’s research has uncovered a former resident of the building on Camden Square was once the home of ‘Woman at Home’ magazine editor Annie Swann. Cleverly combining the actual words of Swann, lifted from her ‘Over the Teacups’ advice column a 1880’s set narrative is woven, which ends the evening on a poignant, downbeat note. Cathianne informs us that she only finished writing the tale the previous evening, so this is very much a work in progress, but one which is a privilege to hear in this particular space. Hopefully this story will have the chance to develop and unfold at the London Irish Centre.
This was an evening of spoken word of great charm and subtlety, exploring both actual history and an idealised vision of the more recent past.
The Girl in the Grate was performed at the London Irish Centre on the 11th to 13th of August 2017.