The Etcetera Theatre
Reviewed – 16th August 2017
“an important and enlightening insight into the world of the modern woman”
Out of the chaos and trauma that is the ladies toilets, Out of Order, a new all-female theatre company bear forth a new nation; Virago. In a series of sketches ranging from monologues and spoken word poetry, to more abstract movement sequences, the audience are treated to an insight into each woman’s world, and the relationships that hold them together.
The piece is an important and enlightening insight into the world of the modern woman. The spoken word pieces cover a range of issues, discussing rape, domestic violence and slut shaming with tact and comedy, whilst retaining the respect that these subjects deserve.
The set is minimal, largely created from rolls of toilet paper and four stalls, but works to service and emphasise the words of the women over the trappings of production design. Transitioning from the tribal carnage of a ladies toilet during a night out, we are led through a series of abstract sketches by a doctor-turned-toilet attendant who has recently immigrated to the UK. We take her side as we watch the most intimate lives of the sisterhood, their hopes and fears, their losses and gains, their power and strength.
The standard of acting is good, if a little monotonous; the tone of some of the speeches feel a little undistinguished, and the characters are largely defined by their status as ‘girly girl’ and ‘tomboy’, but generally speaking, delivery is touching and realist. Particular genius is evident in the movement sections, which are flat-out hilarious, and reminds every woman in the audience of their own group of crazy but lovely girl-friends.
The only issue to give me pause on this piece is the question of representation and experience. Although the insights given feel honest and specific to the performers on stage, I would like to see this piece push further to provide a more accessible, wide ranging breadth of experiences; particularly addressing issues of intersectional feminism, and the undeniable privileges of race and class.
For me, Virago was a fantastic concept, executed well, but with a short half-hour run time, the piece felt it was missing some further development. I look forward to seeing this piece, and this company, develop past their comfort zone.
Reviewed by Tasmine Airey
was at The Etcetera Theatre as part of
The Camden Fringe Festival