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Are There Female Gorillas? – 4 Stars

Gorillas

Are There Female Gorillas?

Drayton Arms Theatre

Reviewed – 29th April 2018

★★★★

“a creative and thought provoking response to a topical debate”

 

Girl and Gorilla share a stage. Girl is wearing black lingerie, stockings and suspenders. Girl waxes her legs, then epilates them, then holds a magnifying glass to them and tweezers out any remaining hairs. Gorilla sleeps, until she wakes up to Girl trying to cut her fur off with nail scissors. The pair are handcuffed together.

This is a creative exploration into attitudes to standards of beauty and femininity, and specifically the effect of societal pressure on people’s relationship to their own body hair. In a world where hair and femininity are often posed as dichotomous to each other, how do we know what choices are actually our own, the piece asks, and is it okay if we bow to other’s expectations if it makes us feel better about ourselves?

The play is beautifully written and well-crafted, smattered with outbreaks of spoken word and facts about female gorillas – did you know that male gorillas are called “silverbacks” but female gorillas do not have a gender specific name? It is a conceptually clever approach to an issue that affects so many people, and discusses the many facets of the debate in a creative way. It is funny and moving in equal measure, as dance scenes are followed by intimate and tender moments between the pair.

Sophie Ablett who plays Girl has a fantastic presence to her performance. Her struggle is immediately relatable and she communicates it expressively with a clown-like playfulness and infectious energy. Grace Strickland de Souza’s Gorilla has a childlike likeability but she feels weaker onstage, though the pair compliment each other well. There are a few moments where the point feels overly laboured, but predominantly the piece strikes a really strong balance between didactic and entertaining.

‘Are There Female Gorillas?’ is a creative and thought provoking response to a topical debate, and is a beautifully crafted piece of theatre.

 

Reviewed by Amelia Brown

 


Are There Female Gorillas?

Drayton Arms Theatre

 

 

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