Writer: Gráinne Holmes Blumenthal
Director: Alison Ryan
Feet Pics Aren’t Free! is an evening in the theatre that can’t help but leave one feeling there was more to be said and felt around the topic it purported to address. The programme contains an information slip on intimate image abuse in Ireland, followed by text from gov.ie informing readers of their legal recourse if they have been a victim of the crime (report it to Hotline.ie), so while the subject matter is weighty and serious, writer and solo performer Gráinne Holmes Blumenthal has crafted a funny, yet uneven production that doesn’t quite work.
Blumenthal begins by stripping to revealing undergarments, with leg warmers covering her feet – it’s a great reveal, and shows her at her funniest. She speaks about her feet, feet in general, and reveals that she found pictures of her own on a fetish website, describing and detailing the experience of harassment and abuse that many, if not most, women receive online.
However, it very rarely feels that Blumenthal is talking about many, or any, other women – perhaps this is the nature of a solo performer, but she is entirely concerned with herself, to the point that she repeatedly plugs a YouTube channel she works for, and leaves the stage with a request to follow her on Instagram on the screen behind her. This self-absorption prevents her from saying anything truly worthwhile in these 50 minutes – we see multiple pictures of her cat, but there is no insight into the nature and possible contradictions of being a performer and online content creator in 2023. She skips breezily past a potentially interesting discussion about people oversharing their lives on social media, so it’s hard to shake the notion that this work is rooted entirely in her focus on herself, and that she has not even considered wider issues.
Feet Pics Aren’t Free! is undoubtedly theatrical, in a way that it is hard for one-person shows to be, and this is largely down to Blumenthal’s assured performance, some intriguing audio-visual work, and the fact that she is a superb singer. There are some clunky moments that disrupt her flow, but she is quick enough to get a laugh from jokes that don’t quite land. However, this felt unformed, with exploration jettisoned at every point in favour of crowd-pleasing self-exculpations.
Runs until 23rd September 2023.