Marnie promised herself she would never go for a poo in the school toilets, but her bowels have had other ideas lately. As she’s dealing with this embarrassment and worrying about her health, we get insight into her innards, where white blood cells are waging war on her colon. This is conveyed by an audio narration focusing on a brand-new cell getting to grips with their job, guiding listeners through the human anatomy and what happens when the body attacks itself.
Strips of raw steak hang in pairs around a clinical-looking platform covered in white plastic sheeting. They also dangle from a clothes peg pinching ELOINA’s vulva in a literal depiction of the crude term, ‘beef curtains’. She hated this part of her body when she was 10 years old. Since then she has come to understand this self-loathing, that can result in surgery to minimise and reshape a person’s labia, is the result of unrealistic genital depictions. Whilst there’s little she can do to change the porn, media and pop culture industries, ELOINA can raise awareness and foster self-acceptance.
Unfussy and rich – that’s what Eating Myself is, in a good way. Although, one of the key takeaways from this one-woman show is that no rich Peruvian dish goes without a fuss. Eating Myself is an endearing monologue by Pepa Duarte about food that navigates the intersections between body stereotypes, family, traditions and cuisine.
Rosa’s been bloated and uncomfortable for about week, but she’s sure it’s nothing. She just needs to find some clothes that hide it, and are also suitable for a first date. A week after that, convinced the pain is something she’s eaten or trapped wind, she’s diagnosed with cancer. It’s 1 April 2018. She’s only 23 years old. Despite her hopes for it to be the year she sorts her life out, the reality is much more stark and scary.
“It’s a sexy song about eating.” Francesca Forrestal says to the front row, before Oddball begins. She’s referring to “Bon Appetite” by Katy Perry that plays on a pre-set loop. At the same time, she’s limbering up – swinging her arms, chatting nonchalantly with the audience, and building a familiar relationship she carries throughout the performance – when the show has begun and latecomers enter halfway through one of her speeches, she unflinchingly welcomes them and instantly settles back into the script as though nothing happened. The ease with which she captivates and holds the room is enchanting in itself.
Like many teenage girls past and present, Amy is riddled with insecurity about her body to the point that she struggles to see her strengths. She wants so desperately to have everything that her best friend Ellie has – popularity, good looks and a date for the dance. Fortunately, Amy’s super pro-active so she’s gathered together everything she needs to cast a spell that will make her pretty. Things don’t go to plan though – instead of suddenly transforming into a conventionally attractive girl, she summons an unexpected guest.
As ICE parasitically invade peaceful American neighbourhoods and imprisons people in concentration camps, the country’s president spaffs racism from his twitter feed and white supremacists take to the streets. Life for immigrants in the US, documented or not, is terrifying right now and Tegan McLeod’s “deportational road trip”, certainly proves this. Though immigration control and the human face it takes on here is horrifying, McLeod’s script never quite settles on the narrative she wants to tell.
It’s 2019 and we’re in purgatory. Some (many?) might say hell, considering the late capitalist nightmare and and rise of right-wing extremism, but Gertrude, former Queen of Denmark, has assured us we’ve arrived in purgatory and will shortly be assigned to our own, personal patches of dusty, red rock.
How well do you know your inner critic? When you look in the mirror, what does she or he whisper in your ear, or shout loudly in your face? “Too fat! Too skinny! Too jiggly! Not hot enough!” Ell Porter and Mary Higgins have not only listened to these voices, they’ve let them out of their heads and, unabashed, onto the stage – from fat to fitness, men to menopause, dildos to doctor’s surgeries, periods to poo and all the body bits in between. As former lovers they claim to know each other extremely well, inside and out, and go to great lengths to get to the bottom of all this body-business. Pun absolutely intended.
It wasn’t by accident that I ended up seeing The Famous Lauren Barri Holstein’s new work The Notorious at The Barbican Centre. Give me feminism, plenty of liquids and general messiness on stage and I’m there, screaming my head off, like when Lucy McCormick performed her Triple Threat two years ago at Edinburgh Fringe.