REVIEW: ‘The People’s Republic of the Isle of Wight’ – Horse Box Theatre Company

The People’s Republic of the Isle of Wight may be a difficult to remember title for a play, but the experience is anything but! In true Joe Plumb fashion, with a mix of humour, irony, sarcasm, ad lib and audience interaction, this play was so much fun! When we arrived we were given cards to write down our pet hates and loves about the island, along with some made-up slogans that we were encouraged to shout and wave at appropriate moments. (I have to say, there was something really liberating about shouting and waving a card passionately in the air, perhaps as a result of being in lockdown for so long.)

When I saw the play advertised I was so curious about what the content would be. Was there going to be a final point or a reasoned argument for or against a particular narrative? Was I going to be educated, preached to, insulted or any of the above? Well I was relieved to discover it was none of these things, it was just pure fun and pure jest. The topics that were covered were so trivial or nonsensical that it was just funny, and it felt really good to belly laugh (and heckle).

Joe played the part of a political candidate who wants to make the Isle of Wight an independent nation, along with our own passport and citizenship test which he promptly tested on unsuspecting audience members. He wore the most ridiculously wonderful blue cape, a bit like Superman gone wrong, along with dungarees and striped t-shirt that made him look like an overgrown toddler. Yet he pulled it all off with his commanding voice (he was a teacher don’t you know) and beaming smile. As an audience member you laugh with him and at him in succession as he carefully switches between character and compere.

Clearly a lot of work has gone into this play, particularly when it came to the sound. There was a clever rap about the history of the island, and for the parts of the play that needed an atmosphere created, there were plenty of soundbites to aid that. My absolute favourite, however, had to be the pop song that Joe composed about the Isle of Wight ferries (which I quite enjoyed to be honest, hello Top of the Pops) he sang over the top while he pranced and danced as though on a catwalk while throwing Vogue shapes. It was just brilliant!

A good time was had by all and by the end of it, the audience felt quite well acquainted and in good humour with each other. It was just great! A much needed respite from daily life. Joe will be performing his play next at Ventnor Fringe Festival on 30th (8pm and 10pm) and 31st July (8pm). Get your tickets from http://www.horseboxtheatre.com Age guidance 16+.

Review by Lisa Carter who is a very talented performer in her own right: a singer-songwriter as Love Lisa – she is releasing a brand new single next Friday! – an actress, presenter (you may have seen her recently in the ‘Out on an Island’ film ‘Our Stories Matter’), dancer and dance teacher as Coco Monroe. She is also a qualified Reiki Practitioner. Find out more about Lisa’s many projects at https://linktr.ee/LisaCarterIOW

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