Madonna or Whore?, VAULT Festival

https://images.bwwstatic.com/columnpic10/D67FAE5E-ABF5-9D77-54C7F42A21654166.jpg

by guest reviewer Daphne Penn

Holly Morgan and Tom Moores create an upbeat, haphazardous cabaret sketch show that is loosely based on the daytime TV show Ready Steady Cook’s audience participation in order to judge important controversial women from history. Well, not all the women, not Madonna because ‘She’s too perfect to judge’ – in much the same way the TV show audience judges food.

Though the concept of judging women is the misogynistic behaviour the show targets, it eventually feels forced and futile to keep lifting laminated cards representing good (Madonna) and bad (Whore). But perhaps this is the point. However, though they say multiple times there is nothing ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ about being a sex worker or a sexually active woman, one can’t help feeling this very action and notation of ‘whore’ is demoralising. One audience member agreed, shouting ‘the whore card should be replaced by a dick’. Such was the atmosphere of audience participation and gameshow madness that anything could happen – even constructive heckling.

Regardless of whether the show’s knowingly meta lines of enquiry are flawed or deliberately mocking, there is an infectious frenetic energy that is impulsive and playful and makes for a fun evening of education and whimsy, even if it is for the most part to the converted. For this Morgan and Moores’ sharp-witted amusements are commendable. Singing along to Madonna whilst intermittently judging bad male figures in politics that are still making disgustingly misogynistic comments openly and without proper punishment given their jurisdiction, could be the new Saturday night, Come-Shame-With-Me dinner party folly.

Madonna or Whore? is meta. It reaches peak meta when Sigmund Freud (Moores) is discussing his psychoanalytic Madonna/Whore complex whilst simultaneously playing the male director that Morgan suffered her own kind of Me Too abuse from during a theatre-in-education tour. The show is buoyantly brave in using itself as platform to out this indictment and further publicise this endemic issue, but could go further in its writing and cohesion to achieve more than a surface scratching, sometimes naval-gazing, sometimes satisfying, rallying cry for equality.

Madonna or Whore? runs through 4 February.

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s