As the title might suggest, Noose Women is a play about television. However, unlike its light-hearted daytime namesake, the eponymous TV programme here has a much grizzlier premise. Pop culture figure and cult leader Chuck North pitches his new idea for a dating show to two ruthless TV producers. The concept: women will compete for his affections and the eventual winner will make the ultimate sacrifice – allowing themselves to be killed live on TV in order to reach North’s promised heaven. Grim stuff.
Noose Women cleverly sends up calculated and heartless aspects of the reality TV industry mainly through its two promotion-hungry producer characters, Victoria and Pippa, and their amoral attitudes and cutting dialogue. Their back and forth spats are vicious and witty, although the bitchy performances in this production could definitely be taken even further. Cult leader North is ridiculously mad enough that the audience enjoy laughing at his nonsense and supporting character Cathy also deserves credit. Played by Alice Pelan, the role could be a bit of a wipeout if not tackled with enough authority, but the actor completely commits to her zany and off-kilter actions – surely inspired by wacky Ab Fab PA Bubbles. The use of TV news reports to break up the scenes is also effective in creating a sense of context and setting and the plot neatly builds to a satisfying, if safe climax.
The play’s biting humour works as well as the more lunatic moments, courtesy of Chuck and Cathy. It just doesn’t quite illicit rolling laughter or any gags you’re going to remember an hour after it’s all done. The play is a graduate production from Edinburgh Napier University and Queen Margaret University students and although it certainly stands up amongst the Fringe, it perhaps doesn’t quite stand out.