Last month I trailed up the stairs at The Kings Arms in Salford to watch the light hearted body-positive production Baggy Bra.
After I had checked my name on the list, I made my way into a room that was lit pink and heavily decorated with bras, fairy lights and various other girly things. Straight away I was warmly greeted by the two main characters, Barb and her daughter Elouise, who gave me a pen so I could draw on their body-positive boob board at the back of the room.
The fairly small room began to fill up quickly as I flicked through the breast-related brochures laid out on my table. Soon after, the production began.
In the first couple of scenes, we’re introduced to the show’s main storyline which follows Barb’s struggle to keep her Welsh bra shop afloat amidst rising energy bills. Barb (played by Siân Parry-Williams) tries her best to keep this from her daughter Eloise (played by Devan Woodward) in the hopes of keeping a lid on things.
From the start, it became clear that the actors playing the mother and daughter duo knew how to bounce off each other quite well which made the script flow with ease. The writer, Izzy Searle, did an excellent job of ensuring the script is kept mostly upbeat through the use of witty puns throughout the production.
We’re quickly introduced to Ted, Barb’s boyfriend (played by Ray Butler) who tries to be as helpful as he can in the bra shop but often ends up being completely useless in his efforts. This was exemplified by Ted’s rather illustrious bra invention the ‘hooter heater’ (a bra with two hot water bottles strapped to it).
As the show goes on we’re introduced to one of the bra shop’s customers (played by Harriet Eaton) who is looking to find a bra her date might fancy. I particularly appreciated the use of this character as it delves into the male gaze and what women choose to purchase for men.
Elle fit the customer a bra which the customer is initially very impressed with, however when the character discovers she’s no longer meeting up with this man, she loses interest in buying the bra immediately. Elle assures her that the bra doesn’t just look good but also provides support for her. However, since a man is out of the picture, the bra’s worth in the customer’s eyes seems to diminish.
Elle reassures the customer that she should get a bra that suits her, for her, not for anyone else. For some reason, this message struck me the most.
The show reaches a happy, satisfying ending when we find out that Elle got accepted into her university’s fashion design course and her mother offers her the shop as a place to showcase her designs.
Overall I must admit I expected the production to hold more serious undertones, as I’d assume the play was solely about checking for breast cancers. However a few brief mentions of the topic in the script may be all that is needed for the audience to remember.
I enjoyed the script and the brilliant acting and actually didn’t mind that the show was so light hearted and humorous.