REVIEW: Smoke Weed Eat Pussy Everyday – A stunningly poetic account of a “young underclass lesbian” in today’s society

Venue: Camden People’s Theatre

Written and performed by: Chloë Florence

Director: Kirk-Ann Roberts

Performance Date: 20 January 2020

Star Rating: ★★★1/2

Reviewer: Alexia Anderson

Set in the intimate venue of Camden People’s Theatre, this autobiographical fringe performance of a “young underclass lesbian” is sure to turn heads. With the title of Smoke Weed Eat Pussy Everyday, it will certainly attract attention. Good! Because what Chloë Florence has to say deserves a huge platform. Partnered with charities Stonewall Housing and London Friend, this is an important piece of theatre/real-life rawness that effectively highlights many issues in today’s society.

Poet, performer and activist Chloë Florence is an eloquent young lady who wrote the script to this show whilst living in a hostel in East London. Battling addiction and homelessness in an unforgiving society, she poetically shares her story through spoken word, real-life video footage and rave re-enactment.

The simple set of a single mattress, alcohol, spliffs and few clothes makes for a bleak start. It represents her feelings of having nothing; particularly when it comes to help from the government, or even just a chance to build her life up from the bottom. The one-hour, single act is made up of audience-addressed spoken word, which Florence beautifully performs. Her fluency with words and the clear talent she has in eloquently rolling political statements and feeling off the tongue is certainly the show’s biggest strength. Her ‘acting’ is very natural and there is certainly a talent to behold.

Being a “customer to their brutality”, Florence shares her feelings of our government and how privileged people such as those in their “luxury high-rise” treated her as if she didn’t exist when she was on the streets with nowhere to go. Her candid accounts of her Tinder history and illegal rave attendance are thought-provoking and empathy-inducing.

When looking at resilience, charisma, and intellect, Chloë Florence is a strong woman and great role model for young women in the LGBTQ+ community and for all who have been affected by homelessness or addiction. Camden People’s Theatre has, brilliantly, once again given platform to important issues that must be reflected on and spoken about.

There are some unnecessary parts to the performance, for example forcing a “hot box” on the audience does not add in any way, however overall the flow, pace and content is superb. With inspired lines such as “sharing my anxiety makes me feel a little less lonely” and “I don’t belong to any corners of this country”, highlights the austerity of the situation.

Creating an environment in the theatre that allows for an intimate connection between Florence and the audience is always key which makes the ending of the piece a little disappointing. Unfortunately, she may well have lost the audience right at the end, if the stone silence, uncomfortable looks, dropped jaws and the odd laugh of disbelief were anything to go by.

Whilst the closing speech is most probably an end statement to shock and provoke thought, it is perhaps misjudged and unfortunately leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Maybe this is the idea? However, to end a show on such a negative note is a bold and potentially damning move.

Florence’s eloquence and sheer guts to get up and perform as she does deserve merit and, furthermore, a platform. She speaks for the many who battle addiction and homelessness and for the many who feel let down by the UK’s current political situation. To have your eyes opened and to reflect upon privilege and the stark reality of our country’s social circumstance, this is a must-see.

Runs until: 23 January 2020

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