Joan Ellis and Donna Jones MBE, aka ‘Them Two‘, shared 90 minutes of stories, poetry and performance pieces for a sell-out audience at the Winter Gardens during this year’s Ventnor Fringe festival on the Isle of Wight.
Donna, an accomplished wordsmith who had an illustrious career as a youth worker in the North-West of England, indulged attendees by traipsing around a slew of amusing subjects, including growing up with embarrassing parents (her Dad’s false teeth once scuppering the embryonic stages of a flirtatious liaison with a dishy waiter.)
Donna’s Mother (“the first feminist in Barnsley”) featured prominently in many of her anecdotes, heralded as a woman of great sass who retained the upper hand in her marriage.
Poems such as ‘The Miner’, ‘Blackpool Revisited’ and ’38DD’ were all delivered with requisite gusto from the lips of a bold performer who has been at the forefront of Isle of Wight spoken word and female rights issues for the past several years.
The two ladies intertwined their spirited but very different sets, an effective tool in keeping the show fresh throughout; each segment was kept brief by design, so the audience never had time to get too attached to one person’s material.
Joan Ellis spoke with great passion about her daughter, Sophie, who was present. Much of her material clearly derived from motherhood.
Joan navigated through various highlights of her career and personal life, displaying a penchant for storytelling – retrospectively musing on her time at the top end of the copy writing industry – as the voice of an animated dog amongst other things.
Highlights included an encounter she enjoyed with an aesthetically appealing young man in the 1990’s, whose contact details she was unable to pluck up the courage to take down. The next time she saw him was on television, as he turned out to be Neil Morrissey from Men Behaving Badly!
Switching back and forth again, Donna’s Buckingham Palace related material provided a shift of comedy gears, with every punchline hitting its intended target, most notably a deliciously disgusting description of one youngster as “the kind with hands down his trousers and offering you a crisp!”
Joan concluded the show with a captivating 8 minute monologue based on the death of Marilyn Monroe. It was crisply delivered, but could perhaps have been placed earlier in the afternoon to play out to a fully charged peanut gallery.
A well oiled show from two seasoned speakers, both of whom bounced off each other with great ease and organic chemistry, without it ever feeling overly rehearsed.
In a nutshell
+ A sell-out crowd aged anywhere from 12-72 were left feeling they’d had excellent value for their £6.50 ticket.