Writer: Bethan Dear
Director: Bethan Dear
Reviewer: Christopher Hong
Just as the news is in that the Swedish Feminist Party has won a seat in the European Parliament, here comes a work-in-progress on modern women by Jackdaw presented as part of the Ovalhouse FIRST BITE season. Ten women, or more accurately 16 actors and the general public, interspersed among the audience, stand up and join together in relaying the introduction of the show between them. The backdrop is dominated by a black and white billboard advertisement showing a pair of female lower legs in high heels, setting out the agenda. There are personal monologues and anecdotes about sex, body image and an amusing and fresh take on waxing which comes with a great punchline.
The staging is dynamic and has a relaxed atmosphere, and the text is supported by movements and recreation. Directed and written by Bethan Dear, at times it resembles a friendly women’s group discussing the inconveniences of womanhood but never a hint of victimisation or blame, just statements of facts. A few of these supposed negativities are in fact something to be proud and embrace, which then raises further questions about expectations and an ideal imposed. A story about being touched up as a barmaid, initially feeling upset but eventually craving the attention of it again demonstrates the contradictory nature of some of the issues at hand. A simple and snappy reenactment of an audition and the rejection of the hopefuls one by one on the basis of the most arbitrary of physical attributes is sad and yet all too true.
For the show to develop into a full length production, the main challenge is to continue on this line of balance and entertainment, together with a more concrete connection between the individual scenes. The striking take home image at the end is a perfect illustration of the content that has been discussed in the show. The simple shift of focus from the physicality to a soulful celebration of people is one of the take home messages. It is heartfelt, heartwarming and encouraging.
Runs until 31st May