Review: PIECE OF ME, Camden People's Theatre

Claire Gaydon’s newest thought provoking production explores mass surveillance through the lens of mega fame.

By: May. 23, 2024
Review: PIECE OF ME, Camden People's Theatre
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Review: PIECE OF ME, Camden People's Theatre After a long standing estrangement, BabyFaceBland is back and ready with all your favourite hits; This time with a sharp political remix. Piece of Me, Claire Gaydon’s newest well crafted and thought provoking production, explores mass surveillance through the lens of mega fame.

The moment Britney Spears’ hit "Baby One More Time" tops the charts, Claire, Chloe and Natalie’s lives are changed forever. The three friends dedicate all their spare time outside of year 6 to rehearsing and writing for their own original pop group: BabyFaceBland. The interviews, the glamour, the spotlight, they want it all! The three pop princesses go from rehearsals in Claire’s bedroom all the way to a major performance at the school assembly, quickly followed of course by their camcorder debut home music video.

Review: PIECE OF ME, Camden People's Theatre

Claire and her two BFFs, played impeccably by Yaz Zadeh and Alex Roberts, absolutely shine as fantasy pop sensations, fully committed to slick, suave 90s dance. What starts with acapella bedroom attempts (all songs from Claire’s actual primary school pop group), move into full produced, surprisingly catchy, original remixes by Jakwob (who has worked with Charli XCX, Robyn, Aurora, and Little Simz). Paired with a boy band inspired icon dance moves by Seke Chimutengwende and Olivia Shouler, it’s pure nostalgic joy.

After breaking the narrative to tell us a story about an incident where CCTV did nothing to solve or prevent the crime, Claire, as both writer and performer, reflects on how our right to privacy has suddenly slipped away. The three explore what it means to be constantly monitored by finding out what would happen if BabyFaceBland’s fame had exploded in their small village, experiencing how attention without consent invades more than inspires.

By the end, the three jump even deeper into meta-narratives by trying out one last role: software engineers at a facial recognition startup. They’ve just signed a life-changing contract with the UK's home office, but not everyone is comfortable with how this would affect their freedom as public citizens. The statement on economic growth over the well-being of the public is clear, yet it feels a bit distant from the people who hold the real power: policymakers who are enacting this legislation under the guise of safety.

Claire successfully brings us back to the large themes, potentially overexplaining the connections, but always held with charming self-awareness. Joseph Brett's projections hit home here, starting with young Britney Spears clips and moving to a hypnotic montage combining paparazzi videos with CCTV and facial technology, reminding us that we, just like Britney, are always being watched.

Britney's eventual response to constant scrutiny hangs overhead, but in front of us, we are brought back to the three young girls just wanting to be seen on their own terms.

Pieces of Me is at Camden People's Theatre until 1 June

Photo Credits: Harry Elletson


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