Fuck You Pay Me
Press Night – 9th May 2019
“funny and empowering without attempting to gloss over the hazards”
In true striptease style this lucidly written play observing the sex worker lifestyle must wait an age while the audience is warmed up. Stacey Clare reads extracts from her forthcoming book countering the stigma and stereotypes of stripping, setting a feminist compass and authentic tone for the evening, before Electric Girl performs an erotic dance to establish the more familiar face and form of the subject. With thunder seemingly stolen, Joana Nastari then takes the stage to narrate the typical evening at a dance club for One, a stripper, as she navigates the hapless regulars and predictable first-timers. Behind her, The Other, played by Charlotte Bickley operates the decks, playing music and occasionally chiming in as DJ Craig as well as voicing One’s phone, which slowly dies as her worried mother tries to make contact.
The tale is funny and empowering without attempting to gloss over the hazards of drugs and drink, the insecure employment and short-term lifestyle. We share the camaraderie of her co-workers as they respect one another’s ‘hustle’, but also the building concern represented by the mother’s missed calls. As a writer, Joana Nastari is perceptive and entertaining. As an actor, she establishes a rapport with her audience while being able to withdraw into scenes where more depth is needed.
Director Bethany Pitts, together with movement director Yami Lofvenberg, uses podia, pools of light, (lighting design, Martha Godfrey) fake fur and tinsel (designer, Naomi Kuyck-Cohen) to create the necessary stages, corners, cupboards and dressing rooms, enhanced by Charlotte Bickley’s rich sound design.
Producer Ellen Spence steers her female production team determinedly away from any danger of being too serious, while ensuring that the stereotype created by those who demean sex workers is thoroughly busted. In place of analysis, the team prefers to endorse the well-run strip club as a safe way for fun-loving adults to exploit each other’s needs.
The show might be more self-confident without the preamble (different performers will open each performance) but if you know how to extract whoops and cheers from an audience the temptation to is probably irresistible. However, in doing so, some of the idea is lost. It’s the intersection between the emotional support sex-workers provide for each other with the moral and campaigning support provided by modern feminism that makes this a fresh and fascinating production, one that needs no dressing up.
Reviewed by Dominic Gettins
Photography by Maurizio Martorana
Fuck You Pay Me
The Bunker until 19th May
The line up of special guests at each performance will be announced each day on FYPM’s social media
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