by Carmina Masoliver 

This Really Is Too Much: 15:20 – Underbelly Cowgate (Big Belly)

An absurd physical theatre show, Gracefool Collective combines movement, dance, and spoken word in a show that seems to be addressing the idea of ‘having it all’. Although focused on just one feminist point, the surreal humour serves its purpose in critiquing individualistic ‘feminist’ goals, in favour of more socialist, collective ones. As the four women fight to be on top (both literally and metaphorically), we see the ugly side of competition between women –  where those on top believe they are advocates of feminism simply because they have broken through the glass ceiling, claiming that others can achieve what they have if they ‘lean in’, knowing such a vast amount of monetary gain and success relies on those at the bottom.

Watch as these women descend into chaos to put forth their message

It is a show of half-finished speeches, interrupted monologues, intersecting each scene with a stripping of clothes and bikini dancing. The way the script uses contrast is really clever, as well as they way it presents an interview getting more and more ridiculous –  the robotic interviewer repeating “I don’t have a box for that”. Watch as these women descend into chaos to put forth their message, but watch not only for its feminism, but also for the talents of these four young women as they dance across the stage.

Aug 15-27; Venue 61; 15:20

(Gracefool Collective)

Show Me The Money

Paula Varjack is a performance artist who keeps going from strength to strength. She is a poet, yet she also has mastered a unique style of show that is a documentary-meets-monologue. She introduces the audience to a world of dreams, before bringing us down to earth to face the reality of being an artist in a capitalist society. Money is a necessary evil, but she shows that it is often believed that artists don’t need it to eat and put shelter over our heads. I write this from a shared hostel room, where I’ve had three hours sleep due to snoring coming from the top bunk. And at Edinburgh Fringe Festival you’re never more than two metres away from an artist, so it would likely be the case that the audience could relate to this. Though from the audience participation from the beginning, we knew who was earning under £10,000 a year (like me), up to the one man who sat down at around the £80,000 mark.

Money is a necessary evil, but she shows that it is often believed that artists don’t need it to eat and put shelter over our heads.

The audience was kept engaged throughout with a series of videos, and experimental music and visuals. This also showed that Varjack is not only a talented story-teller –  threading her monologue together with a kind of narrative arc, a journey of some sort –  but she’s also technically skilled. Her naturally warm personality shines through on stage, where she welcomed everyone to join her in a vision of hope for the future in times where it can be hard to find.

Brutal Cessation

Brutal Cessation by Milly Thomas is a play that asks more questions than it answers, leaving the audience to mull it over, and me hungering after friends to see it to talk about it. One of the first scenes involves the couple –  a man and a woman – in fits of laugher, having a popcorn fight. Even the language in this scene, couple with the foreboding music, implies something more sinister: ‘stop it’, ‘I’m crying’, ‘I can’t breathe’. Scenes are often of natural conversations and confrontations, yet with a surreal element, and at other times they are fragmented, rewound and replayed, poetic. They play with common sayings – the man apologises: ‘say it like you mean it’; the woman commands, ‘say it so it lands in my body.’

At the times the play is so graphic in its language it makes me wince

At the times the play is so graphic in its language it makes me wince, but it is captivating from start to finish. The roles are reversed and with that, it makes you question the reality of what is depicted, and how gender influences our perception of violence in heterosexual relationships, and what lies beneath the subtle changes in the role reversal in this palindrome poem of a play.

Aug 15-28; Venue 8; 16:20

(Brutal Cessation; credit: The Other Richard, via Facebook)

Other recommended shows: Elsa by Isobel Rogers, KMT by Athena Kugblenu, Galpals, My Cloth-Eared Heart by Melanie Branton, Anxiety & Animal GIFS by Hanna Chutzpah, Jane Doe, Shit! I’m in Love with You Again by Rachelle Elie, How to be Good at Everything by Next Best Thing, Sticky Digits by Pamela DeMenthe, and Katherine Ferns In Stitches.

You can see She Grrrowls at Black Market Room 1 at 19:20-20:20 5th-26th (not 16th).

Featured image: @gracefoolC / Twitter

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