Misbehaviour – Edinburgh Filmhouse

Directed by Phillipa Lowthorpe

Written by Rebecca Frayn & Gaby Chiappe

Beauty with a Purpose,’ was the slogan for the longest-running beauty pageant, Miss World; one which didn’t come into effect until around 30 years after the contest’s conception. This saw the addition of intelligence and personality ‘points’ to deter from the previous, purely aesthetic decisions in judging. Misbehaviour from director Phillipa Lowthorpe focuses on the catalyst which sparked this change in the pageant.

Miss World 1970 is fresh from record-high viewership the previous year, and a group from the Women’s Liberation plan on disrupting the event. Begrudgingly at first, history student Sally Alexander (Keira Knightley) joins Jo Robinson (Jessie Buckley) in an attempt to draw attention to the abusive control of the patriarchy, and how the objectification of the women involved in the contest reinforces this for future generations. All the while the pageant dodges controversy, threats and attempts to secure legendary American comic Bob Hope (Greg Kinnear) to host the event.

Here we stumble on the first step, which is the heft of capability with this cast; so much that our attentions are spread. Just as a scene or interaction builds to an investable conclusion, there’s another plotline which needs addressing. Kinnear, who perhaps has the trickiest task as Bob Hope, attempts to offer dimensions to the role, but there isn’t enough screen time for the presence to sink in. It’s an amiable performance, a canny likeness, but Kinnear is only able to capture the misogyny, not the man attempting to live up to his notoriety. Revelling in the raffish attitude is Rhys Ifans, as Eric Morley, ‘Mr Miss World’, alongside Keeley Hawes as his wife Julia. Ifans is hammy, even by his standards, but it works due to Morley’s attitude, his larger than life persona.

Pitching itself as following the formation, and propelling the coverage of, the Women’s Liberation movement, Misbehaviour intends on also showcasing a semi-biographic of Bob Hope, Eric and Julia Morley and Jennifer Hosten, Miss Grenada. All stories worth their salt, but the division means little weight sits on the shoulders of analysis; there isn’t time to invest, to hate or to cherish these characters. Particularly so in the case of Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who offers much promise as Hosten in the brief, but invested, snippet scenes she shares with Knightley. 

Overly considerate, Misbehaviour seems a little too British for its own good. Rebecca Frayn and Gaby Chiappe’s script leans towards the pleasantly accessible in focus, rather than the bold. It doesn’t follow its narrative journey, that while the women in the film know where to draw out the big guns, the filmmakers seem to try and concentrate on finesse for comedy and whopping out the sledgehammers for commentary, achieving neither.  

There is though, a cleverness to aspects of the screenplay, particularly in the reinforcement of allegories drawn between the objectification of women and reflective attitudes. Had this been maintained throughout, Misbehaviour could have been a spectacular comedy-drama. From the hopeful’s measurements, their constant corralling on stage and off, and the numbered discs present on the women’s wrists and ‘rump cam’ shots, Frayn and Chiappe build on this image of the contest as a cattle market. 

It’s perhaps a backhanded compliment, but there’s little inherently wrong with Lowthorpe’s film. On the whole, Misbehaviour’s intentions are admirable, and for the bulk of the film the humour balances, the interpretations of people are held throughout, but there’s a division in narrative arcs. Everything feels three-quarters full, that there’s more emotion to draw out and deeper connections to be made. Sitting at just under two hours, Misbehaviour could have easily held an audience for a further fifteen minutes, even half an hour, which would allow the film to serve as a tribute to all of those involved, rather than the couple we hone in on.

Review originally published for The Wee Review: https://theweereview.com/review/misbehaviour/

Covid-19 – Theatre/Events responses & information

As of March 16th, the Scottish Government advises a policy to protect the capacity of our public services, advising that organisers should cancel or postpone all mass events of 500 people or more – indoors or outdoors.

Below is an ongoing list of Scottish Theatre & events venues which have provided their stance on the matter, with many revaluating constantly in accordance with government advice and the safety of the public and their staff paramount. This page will seek to guide, inform and update readers to which venues remain open, have cancelled events (which should be checked on their respective websites, or have gone dark (closed).

If you have purchased tickets for events or production in the coming weeks/months, we recommend you get in contact with the representatives of the theatres. Box office numbers and website listings for an email address and contact details are below. Please bear in mind the difficult time for these companies, with staff working their hardest to support audiences, talent and each other. The person at the other end of your enquiry is potentially about to have no job for the foreseeable future.

Edinburgh & Lothians:

Assembly RoxyBox Office: 0131 623 3030 – www.assemblyfestival.com
Current Status: Dark

Bedlam Theatre https://bedlamtheatre.co.uk
Current Status: Events cancelled

The BruntonBox Office: 0131 665 2240 – www.thebrunton.co.uk
Current Status: Dark

Church Hill Theatre www.assemblyroomsedinburgh.co.uk
Current Status: Shows postponed

The Festival Theatre & The King’s Theatre Box Office 0131 529 6000www.capitaltheatres.com
Current Status: Dark – Shows have been cancelled or postponed for March and April.

The Playhouse – Box Office: 0844 871 3014 – www.atgtickets.com
Current Status: Dark

The Royal Lyceum Theatre – Box Office 0131 248 4848 – https://lyceum.org.uk
Current Status: Dark as of March 17th, still taking bookings for April & May productions

Scottish Storytelling Centre – 0131 556 9579 https://www.scottishstorytellingcentre.com/
Current Status: Show Cancellation

Summerhall – Box Office 0131 560 1581 – https://www.summerhall.co.uk/
Current Status: Dark

The Traverse Theatre – Box office: 0131 228 1404www.traverse.co.uk
Current Status: Dark

Glasgow:

Glasgow Tramway – Box Office 0845 330 3501 – https://www.tramway.org/Pages/home.aspx
Current Status: Dark

King’s Theatre Royal – Contact Info 0844 871 7648 – https://www.atgtickets.com/venues/kings-theatre-glasgow/info/
Current Status: Dark

Òran Mór – Contact Into 0141 357 6200 – https://oran-mor.co.uk/
Current Status: Dark

The Pavilion Theatre – Box Office 0141 332 1846 – https://www.paviliontheatre.co.uk/
Current Status: Dark

The Royal Conservatoire Scotland – Box Office +44 (0) 141 332 5057 – https://www.rcs.ac.uk/coronavirus-faqs/
Current Status: Suspending productions until further notice

The Tron Theatre – Box Office 0141 552 4267 – https://www.tron.co.uk/
Current Status: Dark

Aberdeen

Aberdeen Performing Arts: Encompassing The Lemon Tree, His Majesty’s Theatre and The Music Hall – 01224 641122 – https://www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/coronavirus/
Current Status: Dark until further notice

The Trivoli Theatre – Contact Number 01224 592755 – https://thetivolitheatre.com/
Current Status: Dark

Dundee and Perthshire:

Dundee Rep – Box Office 01382 223530 – https://www.dundeerep.co.uk/
Current Status: Dark

The Space – https://www.dundee.com/activity/space
Current Status: Dark

Perth Theatre & Concert Hall – Box Office 01738 621031 – https://www.horsecross.co.uk/
Current Status: Dark

Fife:

The Adam Smith Theatre – Box Office 01592 583302 – https://www.onfife.com/venues/adam-smith-theatre
Current Status: Show Cancellations

The Alhambra Theatre – Box Office 01383 740 384 – https://alhambradunfermline.com/
Current Status: Show Cancellations

The Byre Theatre – Box Office 01334 475000 – https://byretheatre.com/
Current Status: Dark, starting March 15th until May 31st

Rothes Hall – Box Office 01592 611101https://www.onfife.com/venues/rothes-halls
Current Status: Show Cancellations

Stirling:

The Macroberts Art Centre –  01786 466666https://macrobertartscentre.org/
Current Status: Dark

Ayr:

The Gaiety Theatre – Box Office 01292 288235 – https://thegaiety.co.uk/
Current Status: Dark

Greenock:

The Beacon Arts Centre – 01475 723 723https://www.beaconartscentre.co.uk/
Current Status: Dark

Highlands:

Eden Court – Box Office 01463 234 234 – https://eden-court.co.uk/news/statement-on-covid-19-coronavirus
Current Status: Dark

Pitlochry Festival Theatre – Box Office +44 (0)1796 484 626 – https://pitlochryfestivaltheatre.com/
Current Status: Dark (Temporarily)

Dumfries:

The Theatre Royal – Box Office 01387 254209 – https://www.theatreroyaldumfries.co.uk/
Current Status: Dark

Honourable Mention:

The Royal & Derngate (Theatre & Cinema) – Box Office: 01604 624811 – https://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/
Curent Status: Dark

This page shall update if & when information is received, in the meanwhile stay safe, smart and support your local arts. They’re going to need it in the coming months.

Hotter – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Written & Performed by Mary Higgins & Ell Potter

Directed by Jessica Edwards

Real talk here; what gets you off? Do you prefer to be cold or too warm? How about your toilet trips, how’re they coming? These may be the sorts of questions which make some of us blush, so you better crack a window, it’s about to get Hotter in here. Tired of playing life by the straight and narrow, writers and performers Mary Higgins & Ell Potter are best friends, previously dating, and want to discover what gets you hot, and are tired of playing things cool. 

Chemistry is everything, and unsurprisingly, Higgins & Potter have it in droves. Not only with one another, but with their audience, and while there is little to no direct interaction, the room feels like one unit. It’s a safe space, where all the ‘gross’ or ‘private’ affairs are out in the open, slathered on the floor and up for discussion. Because why the hell not? Why should what makes us tick, how we bump, rub and grind through the world be something confined to closed doors, and in the cases of women and transgender, kept silent? Higgins & Potter have a voice, and they intend on using it to speak for the people they have interviewed, young and old, proud and self-conscious, shavers and growers.

More than spoken word, these interviews have been compiled into a delightful expression of movement, which moves from the ludicrous to the sultry, and the downright addictive. Further enhancing an authentic feel, the tightness of the pair’s movements does slip, they laugh, they tumble and smile at one another, and it completely sells the intent of the show – this is the paradigm of feelgood, inclusive theatre. Twerking, slow dancing and incorporating this movement into the physical aspect of comedy, Hotter may well be a comedy in shape, but it has a sympathy of dance sweats of spoken word beneath.

This comedic form prominently exposes itself cheekily as Higgins & Potter incorporate ‘skits’ into the production, is a piece of brilliance. Imitation is the name of the game as the pair give character to the voiceovers we hear of the interviewees. Ranging across the board, each person feels whole, even if a caricature. There’s a backstory in the way Higgins holds her nose up at the woman who preaches warm over cold, or an understanding slouch from Potter. Additionally, the recordings of the girls meeting with Pommie, Potter’s gran, adds a sincerity which touches a nerve, reminding us that despite the humourous nature there’s emotion to Hotter.

Unabashedly diving arse-first into the opinions and feelings concerning body hair, periods, boobs, body image and masturbation, Hotter isn’t here to educate, to drive opinion or push, this is a chat with sincere frankness in delivery. Reflective of the slow removal of clothes, Hotter doesn’t lunge face-first, it gradually builds, as if reflecting the growing self-confidence in accepting our bodies. Exquisitely simple, comforting, Higgins & Potter aren’t talking down to the audience, nor across them, this is our show, your show and it’s about the women and trans people who just want to talk about these things in as natural a way as possible. 

And that’s Hotter’s strength right there, Mary Higgins and Ell Potter. Who not only write a spectacularly exquisite production but carry it in such a genuine manner that nothing feels clinical or intense. Health conscious forbidding, the desire to leap up, embrace a stranger and feel a connection erupts as the show closes. Returning in August, it couldn’t be clearer that even as someone who prefers the cold, sometimes you just have to get a little sweaty, a little flushed and a lot, lot Hotter.

Photo Credit – Holly Revell