REVIEW : HAMSTERS
Hamsters is an amazingly funny and poignant play about the intricacies of platonic and romantic love. Written by University of Bristol English student, Rosalie Rodger-Lacan, and performed by the female-led theatre company, Talkers and Doers, the play offers a comedic and emotionally sensitive perspective on relationships and how they can fall apart. These huge themes centre around one fluffy little creature, Peanut the Hamster.
The central characters: Francine, Emma and Hannah, and their complex friendship form the foundation of the play. The play begins with a scene where we see Emma and Hannah (in a relationship) arguing over the fact that Hannah has rather randomly bought Francine a hamster for her birthday. This, in turn, opens an emotional can of worms. The wildly funny scene unravels into something much sadder, and at the end of the scene, Emma decides to break up with Hannah.
Thus, the trio begins to fracture, with Francine caught in the middle of the fallout. Francine then begins to date Frank, a hypochondriac and victim of Francine’s somewhat unfair noise complaints. Frank turns up at Francine’s flat to discuss the complaints, which leads to an invitation for a glass of wine, then to a discussion about co-parenting the hamster and plenty of tension of a certain sort… wink, wink. As the pair spend more time together caring for Peanut, they begin a relationship, eventually deciding to move to Australia and begin their lives together.
It’s at a dinner party, where the new couple announce these plans, that the play is at its most hilariously chaotic. Hannah meets the charmingly awkward character Ernie in a rodent shop where he works and impulsively brings him to dinner to provoke Emma. As one might expect, all hell breaks loose, and it is only Francine shouting that she is leaving the country, which puts the chaos to rest in stunned silence. Peanut is then placed into the care of Hannah, where she soon dies. And like the martyr she is, Peanut’s death ultimately heals the rift between Emma and Hannah, and the play ends on a Zoom call funeral where the audience rises to hear Ernie’s fantastic eulogy for the little creature.
The writing is smart, the characters fully formed, and the plot perfectly paced. Rodger-Lacan’s play is absolutely worth the watch: relatable, funny and refreshing. All the cast adopted their characters brilliantly; not once did I think of them as actors, it all seemed so natural. The use of the Hamster as both a source of comedy but also as a symbol of the fragility and importance of maintaining relationships was a great writing decision which drove the play forward in an intelligent manner. Hamsters really was a labour of love: an excellent, entertaining, Fleabag kind of story which I can’t say enough good things about.
My own work is self-labelled as documentary photography, out of a lack of a better title. By carrying a camera daily, I aim to embody the spirit of the Brownie in making the means to photography ready to me at every moment, without obstruction – by doing so, I can take a photograph of anything that captures my eye and interests me enough to preserve. Any of us can do this these days, with a camera readily available in our pockets around the clock – and many of us do so without even thinking about it. Next time you take your phone out to take a photograph, whether it is of your friends or of something that caught your eye, think about how you are participating in the act of documenting your life through photography. Make prints of your favourites, display them on your walls, share them with your friends and family. Follow the tradition of those who came before you and took their own snapshots documenting their lives. Everyone is a documentary photographer today, and this is a good thing.