Tag Archives: Katherine Kotz

“The Motherhood Project” from the Battersea Arts Centre

This online festival of 15 films tackles a huge topic with appropriate variety. Contributors include well-known writers and strong performers. Expertly curated by Katherine Kotz, here diversity is the key and the range of ideas, opinions and styles is impressive.

Highlights include Inside Me a short monologue from Morgan Lloyd Malcolm of Emiliafame. Frank and funny, a multi-tasking mother (is there any other kind?) talks about her changing relationship to her body. Tackling pelvic floor exercises, aided by “gentle understanding” from her doctor, the sketch is wonderfully performed by Jenni Maitland. 

Jenni Maitland in Inside Me part of The Motherhood Project
Jenni Maitland in “Inside Me”

Poetic evocations of pregnancy and motherhood are provided by Hannah Khalil (accompanied by two strong films) that address a child about to be born and an adult. The epistolary A Letter to My Baby from Anya Reiss also addresses a child in a riveting dense text whose writer freely admits her fantasies and deceitfulness.

There are plenty of other perspectives, too. Suhayla El Bushra’s Baby Yoga has young Shireen (Tsion Gabte) dealing with how her friend’s life has changed now she has a baby. There’s a keen eye on class here that has lots of potential to be expanded. And EV Crowe’s contribution, Number 1, shows the opinions of a young man (Landry Adelard) in trouble at school that’s ultimately rather sweet. Perfectly contained, it is another piece that could easily grow.

Tsion Habte in Baby Yoga part of The Motherhood Project
Tsion Habte in “Baby Yoga”

Short talks from Athena Stevens, Juno Dawson, Lemn Sissay and Siggi Mwasote vary the pace and provide plenty more to think about. But it’s Katherine Kotz’s own show that I enjoyed most – The Queen’s Head is full of wicked humour and challenging thinking. Performed exquisitely by Kotz herself, this Zoom meeting rant is from a character who is not maternal (after all, Michael Gove was a baby once). The humour and intelligence in the piece confirms that there’s something for everyone in this project.


Until 2 May 2021

Photos from Drift Studio

“Happy to Help” at the Park Theatre

This new comedy by Michael Ross is as bright and sparkling as anything on the market. The subject – target, rather – is the big business of supermarkets, the play as thought provoking as it is funny.
A mega store built on former farmland is unwitting host to the UK boss of ‘Frisca’ supermarkets, with Tony masquerading as a shelf stacker, having been put “back in the trenches” by the chain’s American owner. The Toffy Brit meets his match in store manager Vicky, and the laughs come quicker than sales at Christmas time.

Vicky is a gem of a role for the brilliant Katherine Kotz. The Cruella de Vil of Costcutters, the Lady Macbeth of Morrisons, Kotz lands every line perfectly. Director Roxy Cook does well to lavish time here. It’s possible other scenes could have been slowed down, but the comedy skills of all are impressive. With a plot twist that reveals how carefully constructed Kotz’s character is, this is one of the finest performances, and roles, I’ve seen in a long time.

 Jonny Weldon, Rachel Marwood and Charles Armstrong
Jonny Weldon, Rachel Marwood and Charles Armstrong

Superbly supported by Charles Armstrong as the disarmingly affable Tony, there are further fine performances from Ben Mann and Jonny Weldon as two youngsters struggling to find their place in the (supermarket) world. Dreams are dashed and characters corrupted among the dairy aisles. Completing the cast are the excellent David Bauckham, as the big boss jetting in from the States at the first suspicion of Union activity, and Rachel Marwood, who’s in charge of Tony’s induction both when watching a corporate video and then in the pub – a scene that balances tension and laughs to great effect.

The mix of everyday lives and crap jobs, superbly observed, is deftly combined with big themes of corporate and personal responsibility. Ross’s social conscience is razor sharp, the delivery of facts, figures and argument, impeccable and inventive. But it’s Ross’s skill as a satirist, the ability to deal so well with exaggeration, that should make the show a hit: rules and situations seem ridiculous until you realise they already exist or are close to happening.

The comedy here is bold, adventurous and downright clever. As Orwellian doublethink is applied to the corporate world, the results are seriously funny.

Until 9 July 2016


Photos by David Monteith-Hodge