Judge Judy's Buzz World: Harry Porter Prize Winner

Wed 11th – Sat 14th May 2016

reviews

Cameron Wallis

at 01:09 on 12th May 2016

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It is easy to see why Judge Judy's Buzz World won the Footlights Harry Porter Prize 2016. The script is superb, writer Rachel Tookey spinning together a refreshing, one-woman drama now showing at the ADC. This 45 minute show is well-worth seeing if the opportunity arises.

And, I am not just saying this because I am petrified that Judge Judy will come for me in the dead of night and attempt to dissolve me in an acid bath if I do not write the show a positive review. Though this is a slight consideration as I am writing…

Whilst it is not exactly laugh-a-minute, bits of this show are outrageously funny, and such moments are brought to life by the wonderful acting of Eve Delaney. Buzz’s first ‘case’, featuring a hilarious Mexican accent, a ‘tiger roll’, and several underripe mangos is particularly amusing. As a side note, in this particular scene the changes in lighting from lighting designers James Wood and Eimear Ryan-Charleton could have been smoother, however this did not much detract from the great writing and excellent acting.

Judge Judy’s Buzz World keeps our attention because for the first half of the show or so we are slightly uneasy about whether or not we should be laughing at Buzz, laughing with her, or horrified by what she has done. Let’s just say our protagonist is not exactly all that she says she is, or even who she thinks she is. It is as this dawns upon the audience that we become slightly uncomfortable laughing at Buzz’s narrative. When we have pieced together what is actually going on, the play takes on a whole new dimension, revivified by this terrible realisation.

The audience plays an important part in this show, and it was a crying shame how sparsely populated the theatre was on the opening night. Buzz takes us on a journey of her greatest cases from a set that resembles a bar in small town America, imaginatively designed by Toby Molyneux. The white sheets over the duke box and tables works well in setting the scene of an abandoned, dusty town. Especially, at the end of the play this helps create a devastating sense of isolation - by this stage Delaney has performed for 45 minutes without speaking to anyone other than the audience: no wonder she feels lonely!

At times the play feels slightly rushed, Delaney hurrying through lines that an audience was still laughing at or pondering over. Also, the transitions between scenes - though of course necessary to allow Delaney a chance to gulp down some water, light a cigarette, and catch her breath - were not all that smooth. The country music that she awkwardly dances to, perhaps helping to convey her madness and provide a sense of nowness to the scene, might have been avoided by just fading the lighting down, or having her walk offstage to bring on another bottle of beer, pack of cigarettes or the like. It just felt like a bit of clumsy directorial decision from Patrick Wilson. However, the final scene of the show is extremely well-directed, and atones Wilson for these earlier confused scene transitions.

Overall, the script is extremely impressive and, in the main, is exceptionally well-performed; it would be unsurprising if both the director and the lead actress of this show are successful above and beyond the Cambridge drama scene. Although a couple of lines are delivered at a hurtling pace and some of the directorial decisions not spang on, this play is new, exciting and well-worth a shot.

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Clare Cavenagh

at 08:49 on 12th May 2016

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Judge Judy's Buzz World, winner of the Footlights Harry Porter Prize 2016, is an unexpectedly absurd and hilarious forty-five minute monologue which takes the audience through the life and times of the titular Judge Judy (née Buzz, and of no relation to the television personality). It skilfully and strangely weaves its way through her stories, all delivered by Eve Delaney, the only actor to appear onstage. This show, though unapologetically weird, was hugely impressive, and I only wish more people had been present at its opening performance.

The stage of the ADC was set up as a kind of disused diner as the audience arrived, tables and chairs strewn haphazardly around; the larger pieces of furniture, and a large jukebox covered in white sheets. Delaney herself, as Buzz/Judge Judy was already onstage when the doors opened, idly dancing her way around the space to the late-night regional radio music coming from the jukebox. Judy looked like something of a rough character - her lipstick was smudged, her tights torn, the hem of her skirt had come undone, and her uniform shirt had stains and tears.

The show itself is a crazed romp through the anecdotes which Judy is supposedly planning to tell the following morning when she's a guest on a talk show, as one of America's folk-heroes. Judy, in her spare time when she's not working at any of her three jobs, is a vigilante, tearing through the worst criminals of America, killing them before they can do more harm, and then passing their organs on to charities who might be able to sell them. To begin with, Judy is hilarious, but as time goes on, and anecdote after anecdote piles up, laughter becomes a little more uneasy, and the audience starts to realise that perhaps Judy isn't all she said she was.

Throughout, Eve Delaney is a force to be reckoned with. After watching this show, I'd definitely think twice before crossing her, and I'd be on my guard if we were to meet in a darkened alley. Her almost-hour onstage was wonderfully energetic, throwing herself around to illustrate her tales with big gestures, and sometimes balloons, dancing nonchalantly in the radio song breaks (narrated by Tim Vaughan). She was funny and a bit gross and sometimes scary, always totally entertaining, taking command of the ADC although she was alone onstage.

Judge Judy's Buzz World is very unusual, but I think great show, and deserves a much bigger audience than the one that was present last night. If you like crazy tales, American small-town horror films and feathers-on chicken breasts, this show is definitely for you. If you're ambivalent about those things, give it a try on the off-chance.

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