The Womens Institutionalised Tea Stall at Tactile Bosch Gallery, Cardiff Sunday 18th July
A Performance by Mrs. Parry-Evans (Susan Morris) and Mrs. Wyn-Jones (Tiff Oben)
What can be more reassuring than a nice cup of tea in a nice cup and saucer served by a nice lady?
Even though it's unlikely you've seen two well groomed ladies (Morris and Oben) from the 40s set up a tea stall you won't have much trouble picturing it. Pearls and twinsets and jaunty little hats, gloves and red lipstick, all atremble at the importance of their task, these well brought up and well mannered ladies are the stuff of all good Sunday night dramas.
With impeccable poise and obsessive attention to detail these gentile ladies spent over thirty minutes carefully setting out their tea stall - a large trestle table complete with pretty blue tablecloth and paper doilies. Painstakingly and painfully they arrange and rearrange. Exquisite china teacups and saucers, pretty milk jugs, original 40s teapots, handles to the right, spouts to the left. Every piece it seems has to be checked and admired before being allotted its pre-destined space.
Barely acknowledging their audience from the outset, save to offer a sneering glance, by the time the table has started to groan the ladies are totally immersed in their task. Oblivious to the growling mutterings and increasingly restlessness the ladies continue to stack and build their tower of respectability to the point of precariousness.
When it seems that the tower cannot grow any higher and the audience have almost forgotten what they are waiting for, the ladies quietly unsheathe their weapons of destruction - a frying pan for Morris and a rolling pin for Oben. Without ceremony or warning and with enviable abandon they systematically destroy every carefully placed delicate object on their stall. China crashes and fragments fly. The stunned audience squeals and claps hands to mouths and ears. As the ladies' smashing and bashing reaches a crescendo the audience is on its feet cheering and egging them on. They may not be getting their nice cup of tea after all but they seem pretty happy about it.
When the table and a good deal of the floor are covered with broken crockery with the audience are still cheering, the ladies exchange their weapons for sweeping brushes. Not until the fragments are swept into a neat pile do they rest, their moment of rebellion is over, order is restored. Time for a nice cup of tea perhaps?
An exhilarating and exhausting performance by Morris and Oben who played their parts to perfection. Their timing was superb, their poise impeccable and their tapping into that dark china-smashing side of us all was a triumph.
Film by Kristian Brunker