To say that Bryony Kimmings and Taylor Houchen have impressed me with their work in That Catherine Bennet Show at the Southbank Centre is not saying nearly enough. This aunt and her 11-year-old niece are the responsible ones for the creation and development of Catherine Bennet, the new pop star alternative that offers teens a different option in the midst of the increasingly similar pop stars of these days that only sing about money, fame and lust.
Catherine Bennet reflects Taylor’s wishes of what she would like to find in a role-model: she sings about how to make the world a better place, about friendship, animals, the future, and things that teens actually care about and relate to. She is clumsy, loveable, traditional yet quirky, with a big pair of glasses, decent and colourfully extravagant clothes and she represents all the good values one as a parent might wish for their child. With a blonde curly wig, Auntie Bryony is the embodiment of ‘CB’ with the goal of showing her niece that it is possible to change something in the world if you know exactly what you want to change and if you have lots and lots of courage.
This is the endearing record of their journey together so far. Because of their true connection the feeling created on stage is one of familiarity and comfort. I felt as if I was sitting in a cosy living room hearing an accomplishment of two old friends. The show is not meant to be flawless and technically perfect: it is meant to feel real and relaxed, it is welcoming you and acknowledging you sitting in the audience. In the end I actually got on stage and was part of the song “Future” in which you name something you would like to see in the future. I was walking through space with CB, Taylor, the backing dancers Boo and Hoo, and five children from the audience, and it was incredibly fun and liberating.
I find people are often ashamed of the wrong things. They feel embarrassed to wave their arms enthusiastically, to dance silly and smile (unless they are drunk), they are ashamed of their faces and bodies and so they hide and alter them to pretend perfection and yet more often than not in today’s world they are not ashamed of greed, lust, not ashamed of objectifying themselves, or of preconceptions and invisible social rules that bind people to certain stereotypes. Most of us prefer to fit in and look ‘cool’ than actually think with our own minds and dare to make a change, dare to behave differently in a positive way. For that, I commend Bryony and Taylor. You are right: this is how the world changes, with people like you reminding everyone else it doesn’t have to be the way it is.
Look up Catherine Bennett on Youtube, if you have children or teenagers, share her music with them, it is still pop music like the tunes they like to hear, but the message and the music videos are not going to make your little girls feel like they have to be sexualized to be important and famous or that they need to parade their bodies to be looked at. If you get a chance, catch That Catherine Bennet Show which is on until the 28th and see for yourself the incredible loving journey of Bryony and Taylor. 5/5
Review written by Sofia Moura.
That Catherine Bennett Show is currently showing at the Purcell Room (Southbank Centre) until Tuesday 28th October. For more information on the production, visit here…