High Steaks, Theatre Deli

by Laura Kressly

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.

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Bacon, Finborough Theatre

by Laura Kressly

Toxic masculinity is entrenched in contemporary life, from wider political and social systems to the minutiae of our daily interactions. It doesn’t just harm women; it also broadly shapes men and boys’ relationships with each other. One way this manifests is through displays of overt heterosexuality and other stereotypically masculine behaviour particularly in places like schools, where teenage boys constantly scuffle for power and try to fit in. Any new students need to quickly find their place in the hierarchy, preferably near the top. However, those who are already there sense their position is precarious so they bully anyone that could be perceived as a threat. Darren is one such lad who senses weakness in the quiet and bookish Mark who just joined their year 10 cohort, but Darren also senses something in himself that he believes must be kept in check.

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Meat, Theatre 503

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by Laura Kressly

Two mouldering animal carcasses dangle from butchers hooks at the back of the stage. Glistening fat and muscle clinging to white bone waits to be turned into an expensive meal, then served at the high-concept restaurant’s table for two in the foreground. But fuzzy, green patches around the edge of the larger, more exposed dead body exude an unsettling energy – this meat is old, with the mould indicating a deeper, more insidious rot that’s not so easy to cut out.

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Sticky Door, VAULT Festival

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by Joanna Trainor

Disclaimer: Good reviewing practice is not to put yourself into your article – your review is about the show, not the journalist. But I have such an emotional connection to Katie Arnstein’s work, that I struggle to write about her productions as ‘objectively’ as I perhaps should. It’s probably why it’s taken me so long to put pen to paper.

Rhubarb and custard sweets, a ukulele, placards, and a voiceover montage of misogynistic statements that make you oh so angry – all signs point to the final installment of Katie Arnstein’s It’s A Girl! trilogy.

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Faces in the Crowd, Gate Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

A woman informs us that storytelling needs a sustained breath. She’s then interrupted by a crying baby, a young boy who wants her attention, and a husband who points out both but makes no attempt to help. The unnamed translator, who may or may not have lived in New York, now lives in Mexico City. Her days that – remembered or imagined – were once filled with reading and writing, nights out, casual sex and music, now consist of nappies, playtime and housework.

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Are There Female Gorillas?, Camden People’s Theatre

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by Laura Kressly

The patriarchy has a lot to answer for, including what must be a ridiculous profit margin for the hair removal industry. Women have had it drilled into them, both explicitly and subconsciously, that having body hair is ugly and dirty. So we wax, shave, epilate, thread and laser ourselves to smoothness – and ingrown hairs, razor burn, and expense. Gorilla, the alter-ego of Girl, is sick of it.

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The Half, Vault Festival

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By Laura Kressly

Defying the odds, Nell and Cathy are comedians with successful careers behind them. But now that they’re nearing 40, they’re also on the verge of being forgotten by an industry that only values women who meet very specific criteria. When they are offered a rare gig at the London Palladium, this is a chance to resolve lingering tension between them and revive their reputations, but it could also lead to total ruination of everything they’ve fought to achieve.

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