This is a very special piece of theatre, performed by an extremely talented cast with passion and vigour. Writer and performer, Chloe Wade with support from her mentor Morgan Lloyd Malcolm (Emilia, The Wasp) has created a multi-media theatrical play that is the moment. Tackling the subject of misogyny, sexism, sexual assault, body shaming and the devastating impact of the patriarchy on women in the film industry it could be preachy and dry, after all hasn’t everything that needs to be said, already been said? But, the setting(s), the tone, the playing with form and the immaculate direction mean that As SHE Likes It swerves any cliches or dull moments.
The cast all play numerous characters, from the old Hollywood tropes of Damsel in Distress, Leading Lady, Comedy Queen, Sex Symbol, and Girl Next Door, showing how easily women were boxed and labelled. The comedy is used to brilliant effect, often to entertain or to pack a brutal punch at the ownership and entitlement of film studios, directors and producers. Krupa Patti, Lucy Truck, Tanika Yearwood, Stacey Evans and Chloe Wade are all gorgeously versatile and nuanced. You can tell they are loving every second of this experience.
The direction (Tilly Vosburgh) is joyous, there are so many clever and insightful choices, so much teasing of the audience that even though the subject matter can be dark, and it’s fair to say that important issues can sometimes drain a play of energy, there is no risk of that here. The team who have created this know their crafts, know what they want to achieve and they do it with skill and confidence.
There are laugh-out-loud moments, times when the audience gasped, times when people cheered with recognition and some difficult and moving moments that give the play a delicate and thoughtful depth. Wade is not playing purely for laughs, she has a point to make and a voice (s) she wants to be heard. This is a play full of heart and ideas and a call for action.
Wade and her team are in very good company, it reminded me of the first time I saw The Vagina Monologues – the same impact and power, same mix of humour and activism. As SHE Likes It has that same ability to appeal to audiences in both community centres and The West End.
Don’t miss it. See it now and tell your friends.
Review by Roz Wyllie
In 1937, 20-year-old Patricia Douglas was brutally attacked and sexually assaulted at an MGM party. Taking on Hollywood’s most powerful institution, the dancer filed charges which were swiftly dismissed and silenced. Three generations later, through a fusion of live theatre and filmed footage, As SHE Likes It exposes the cultural legacy of sexism and exploitation that still haunts the industry today.
For full details of the tour
27 January-29 January 2024