That Catherine Bennett Show at Bristol Old Vic


Taylor is 9 years old and, in a world of uniformity, she is bored of being told not what to do but WHO TO BE.   And pop stars, in particular, aren’t they just all the same – same look, same hair, always singing about love or lack of it?   What about individuality, whatever happened to that?  What about those songstresses of old – Aretha, Joni, Madonna, Kate?  Now they had some oomph …

On a week long stay at her Aunty Bryony’s, Taylor reviews, imagines, reinvents and plots.  With brilliant rapport, the two women create a brand new pop star, based on what a 9 year old might want a role model to be – a community driven, kind, safe, successful, hard-working, animal loving type of woman.   And all that sex? Get rid of that.  And, while we’re at it, let’s have a pop star with curly hair (“they never have curly hair’) and glasses, make-up on just for fun, skirts below the knee, sensible shoes that she won’t fall over in, a back pack to carry about all her pop star related stuff.

Catherine Bennett is born.

Bryony Kimmings plays the cool, understanding aunt.  She tells Taylor about Emeline Pankhurst, helping her to see that all we really need in life is belief and courage.   She transforms herself into her niece’s pop star dream, bringing a roll of new songs that actually mean something: songs about animals and kindness, apathy, human rights and a voice for kids, freedom of speech, equality, the future!

We can do this, we can visit schools, reach the kids, be on Radio 1!  Everything here feels very real, genuine.

Backed by 2 miserable dancers (because no-one is happy all the time and CB can’t dance very well), who are also comical, Catherine Bennett sparkles in her ordinariness.  Audience participation is high and members are invited to design a new future, to play instruments, to explore palaeontology, to dress up, to imagine …

There is a Lily Allenesque aspect to CB, you know when she first hit the scene in her flouncy dresses and different look, singing about bullying, society’s obsession with weight loss, city life gone bad and making the world a better place?

Aimed at 6 to 9 year olds, That Catherine Bennett Show is an ode to females everywhere, a call to arms to help our daughters be who they want to be.  Boys should go too, see for themselves that girls also like martial arts and just being themselves.

My 7 year old girl came out of the Bristol Old Vic and said straight away, “I want to be a Doctor.”  Within the hour – “I want to make a new invisible friend” and “I’m going to invent a new rap.”  Her new friend is an entirely black badger, save the splash of white on his tail, and her rap is called My Friendly Street.  We’ll have to work for a bit longer on the former.  Right now, she’s upstairs, rehearsing her new show; I can hear her singing.

Celeste CB Review 2

Thank you, Catherine Bennett – you can come round to ours for a cup of tea anytime.

Be sure to check out CB’s website, complete with videos, songs and a blog.  Let’s celebrate girls and women.  Let’s be who we are!  Who we want to be!

– by Becky Condron and Celeste Condron

That Catherine Bennett Show is on at Bristol Old Vic until 22nd February

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