As part of West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Furnace Festival music, feminism and excellent execution collide in RashDash’s identity questioning show.
“I thought I could tell you with words how funny I am”
These words I am about to use are words chosen by men to describe the life of men in a man’s world. This piece presents empowered, liberated, sexual women who are not being sexualised – a strong image to convey, but a success nonetheless.
The use of costume, physical theatre and galaxy chocolate-like vocals created an identity beyond physicality for all of the women on stage. On a darkened stage at the Courtyard Theatre WYP an A Cappella opening proved glistening, slick harmonies to be a capability of this cast but they ultimately downgraded into an unexpected discord. The music throughout – by Becky Wilkie – was refreshing and unique, and the collaboration across performers to create soundscapes that were organic and completely entwined with the action that was happening on stage.
Costume was consistently a clear indicator of both sex and gender. Their clothes shifted between unnecessary entrapment and theatrical expression. At one point a single piece of silky fabric was woven around the naked body of Abbi Greenland as she become constricted by a typically fashionable makes-shift dress. She was made a spectacle of. She was paraded around the space like a prize to be won; the restrictions of this fabric were not only put on by someone else but also removed by someone else, consequently this particular version of a woman had no control over her own body.
With complex, lyrical yet also strong, physical theatre pieces punctuating each transition each actor lost another layer of clothing and also another layer of an identity that has been predestined for them. Their strength of movement and their appearance challenged the audience’s preconceptions of what it was to look feminine and masculine, this line was blurred and the two simply looked like artists. As a piece it was increasingly self aware of any problematic content metatheatrically discussing their own “point” to their work towards the conclusion of their play.
This is a production where the idea of the man-hating feminist who is preaching you something you could not hope to understand is deconstructed and challenged. By the conclusion of the 74 minute piece the audience is shown actual feminists who are real, honest portrayals of women – not infantilized, not considered girls – who want to be questioned, engaged with and ultimately justified as an individual with their own volition. A woman is flesh, blood and “meat” but a woman is also a lady, a woman is a multifaceted and undefinable creature that does not need your approval.
The final performance of Two Man show is tonight.
(Image courtesy of Soho Theatre)