Reconciling feminism with the more mundane aspects of modern life is hard. What if all you can afford to buy is Primark but you know the clothes are made in sweatshops by women and girls? What if you don’t want to be one of those people who worries about their weight, but you want to be healthy? What do you say in the eulogy for your mum who held traditional values and ideas about womanhood?
Two women in one-piece, white swimming costumes wrestle with paradoxes like these within Cassandra’s day of funeral planning. From choosing an outfit to reflecting on the generational difference between her and her mum, her preparations are framed by feminism. The role of the voice in feminist self-expression plays a major part in this work that looks at the push-me-pull-you conflict between femininity and feminism. There’s more sophistication and nuance at work in this piece than Louise Orwin addresses in her recent OH YES OH NO, but neither show has any answers.
But that’s ok. There may not be any, certainly not without a near-total demolition of the patriarchy. Presenting the issue of navigating what is considered day-to-day life by the status quo assures women that these conflicts are normal and it’s impossible in the current social structure to be 100% feminist all the time.
The fragmented but dense narrative celebrates language, whilst simultaneously presenting its shortcomings. The use of two women to tell the story of one initially confuses, but soon finds its grounding and emphasises the universality of this problem in modern, liberal life. It’s not all heavy-going, though. Some humour and gentle mocking of male strength brings some lightness to a story about death and legacy.
Though lacking in aggressive ferocity, the craft in Mouthpiece is a marvel and the issues it raises are rarely seen on stage but hugely prevalent in women’s lives. It’s a powerful homage to the self-expression and inner conflict of being a woman today.
Mouthpiece runs through 28 August.
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