60 Minutes of Mood Swings is a ‘radically feminist’ musical comedy. It is performed by five young women from the relatively new On The Nose Productions. Set in the fictional Camp TartTamer, the rather thin plot concerns a group of friends who decide to go to the camp in order to become society’s ideal woman.
It begins with a catchy song. The chorus - “we are women, women, perfectly normal women” - is an energetic start to the show. For a musical that claims to deliver ‘questionable’ singing, each song is well-performed and delivered with infectious enthusiasm. In general, the songs cover subject matters that are very relevant to Gen Z women. They are cleverly written and provide a source of female empowerment in the male-dominated world of comedy.
The infamous social media personality Andrew Tate is the target of much of their mockery. In one number, the quintet wear bald caps and aviator sunglasses, and compare the size of Tate’s head to Mars. In another, they reference the meme ‘she’s a ten but...’. This song has some of the funniest lines of the show (‘she’s a ten but has self-diagnosed herself with ADHD’ amongst others), but is riddled with tonal whiplash. I found myself laughing, then caught off guard by the upsetting change of mood; she may be a ten out of ten, but she isolates herself because she thinks nobody likes her.
Once inside the camp, the quintet are instructed by an unseen voice to do a list of tasks. These tasks satirise the unfair expectations society imposes on women, acting as a loose metaphor for the patriarchy.
How the women got into Camp TartTamer is never really made clear. The set design is very minimal, so the transition into them being actually in the camp starts when they take camo minidresses out of a cardboard box and put them on. One character states she may have ‘bought them off Amazon’. Why these proud, outspoken feminists would wear such impractical dresses to a boot camp seems nonsensical. This is a running flaw throughout the story. The characters flip-flop on how self-aware they are, sometimes criticising the actions of misogynistic men, other times going along completely with the demands of Camp TartTamer. And despite their criticism, they only make plans to escape towards the end of the show. What happens after they leave the camp is not fully explored, but leaves an interesting experience to ponder on.
60 Minutes of Mood Swings was funny, moving and handled sensitive topics with care. It's obvious that On The Nose Productions have lots of potential. However, the story fell flat at times, and its feminist commentary left a lot to be expanded upon.
- Show Title: 60 Minutes of Mood Swings
- Venue: The Rotunda Theatre