The sequel to the hilariously irreverent How Eva Von Schnippisch Won WWII is an amusing foray through 1950s Hollywood, and all the glitz, glamour, stars and secrets that lurk down every boulevard. Eva, determined to leave her life of espionage and killing behind her, sets off for the sparkling lights of LA and a new career in the spotlight. Her old bosses, however, aren’t quite done with her yet, and the glory of Hollywood isn’t quite as spotless as it seems...
Eva Von Schnippisch is impossible to dislike. She is rude, crude, unapologetically confident and occasionally downright obscene, and her quick-wittedness and brilliant audience interaction should never be underestimated. Stephanie Ware, who has been playing Eva for almost a decade, is at her best when she is simply chatting to the audience, dealing masterfully with technical difficulties, and ad-libbing skilfully through a potentially awkward moment. Her characterisation of Eva is flawless; there is no question that Eva is a true person in herself, and Ware’s embodiment of her is outstanding.
Ware uses props, costume changes and lighting well, eliciting laughter and cheers through her body language and audience asides. The recorded voices that speak for every character she interacts with feel somewhat out of place, however; Ware’s charm and ability to captivate her audience are slightly jarred by the audio, the contents of which might at times be more effectively conveyed through simple narration. As a former cabaret singer, Eva is no stranger to big numbers, but each song, while well-written, lacks any substantial ending - the ‘big finish’ I would expect Eva to revel in - and the audience was often confused as to whether a song had actually finished or not. This is a shame, as Ware’s performances deserve the applause a more defined ending might allow.
The crucial element this show is currently lacking is pacing. It felt like very little happened for the first three quarters of the show, and a whole lot in the last few minutes. The premise of the plot is excellent – I love that Ware does not shy away from confronting contemporary issues, and there is a clear #metoo message which she manages to deal with sensitively whilst still being amusing and irreverent, which is no mean feat. There is, however, a lack of excitement and momentum for much of the hour. I found myself far more invested in Eva’s story in her first instalment, which was so action-packed that the entire hour was a whirlwind that felt more like ten minutes. The sequel is missing that energy.
Ware’s skill and natural humour always make Eva’s stories an enjoyable experience, but I think she has a little way to go with the energy and momentum of this show. I have no doubt it could be sensational, and I sincerely hope Ware is able to get it there.
Show title: How Eva Von Schnippisch Saved Hollywood
Venue: The Vaults
Date reviewed: 19/2/20