Although I wasn’t at all sure what to expect from the cryptically named ‘The Norm All Day with Dorothy Fale’ at the CogART Space in Old Street, it wasn’t a feminist clown in a red suspender belt, six foot wings, a platinum blonde wig and a cycle helmet. However, despite her silence, the clown had plenty to say and somehow melded outright comedy with hard hitting statements about the position of women today.
The night got off to a good start with a 10 minute warm up act by a stand-up comedian, recently returned from Edinburgh. Amusingly self deprecating and rather witty he in no way heralded the arrival of an exhausted and wing-burdened angel in sexy lingerie. Nonetheless she burst onto the scene and the meat of the performance began. With voice overs from Heidi Klum, pronouncing banal and conflicting pieces of life advice to lesser women, and from interspersed cleverly with extracts from Kafka’s ‘Metamorphoses’, and testimonials from other women, Jonna Nummela soundly dispatches a verbatim theatre version of the insanities that women unquestioningly play out in their everyday lives in a bid to make themselves heard. From juggling three babies to multi-tasking at work Nummela manages to deconstruct the days that women accept as normal and show just how ludicrous some of their aspects are – such as wearing four inch stilettos to work day in and day out, just to be taken seriously. The whole piece truly summates the life experiences women don’t even think about any more, and in unpatronising terms slices them open for comedic observation. The resounding piece of advice I was left with was to be happy without making a fool out of oneself, which in efforts to please can be only too easy to do.
The show at the CogARTSpace is relatively short, running at only 50 mins, and yet it packs a punch that resonates for a lot longer than that. It feels like it may become a seminal piece of fringe theatre and is an awful lot more adept and intelligent that the other feminist cabarets I’ve seen on the London fringe scene. I’d see it while you can, because it feels like Nummela might be a Greer at the start of her career, and I’m very interested in anything she might have to say again in the future.
Review by Annemarie Hiscott
Norm All Day with Dorothy Fale
Venue COG ARTSpace, 113 Southgate Road, Above the De Beauvoir Arms, London, N1 3JS
Dates 11th-15th August at 8pm
Inspired by Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Victoria’s Secret and the recent beach body controversy this surreal one-woman show is ready to take Camden Fringe by feminist storm. Combining elements of stand-up, verbatim theatre and cabaret, a silent clown Dorothy Fale embarks on a journey through a regular day of everywoman. There’s only one twist; she’s turned into a model of a famous international lingerie brand. Yes, the one with those wings and all. She has become the ultimate fantasy but the reality is she is late for work. With a narrative fuelled by real-life testimonies of women of many shapes and sizes living in the UK today Norm All Day is hilarious expedition into womanhood, body image and the uplifting life philosophy of supermodel Heidi Klum.
Written by and starring: Jonna Nummela, an award-winning Finnish playwright and comedian is a current member of Soho Theatre’s Young Writers Programme and co-founder of Footnote Collective. Their recent work includes a playwriting residency at Arcola Theatre and a stand-up play ‘Suicides and Small Talk’ performed at Lost Theatre One Act Festival 2015, Old Red Lion Theatre and Ventnor Fringe 2014. Winner of Association for Amateur and Professional Theatres in Finland’s Playwriting Competition. @JonnaNummela
Aug 11, 2015 – Aug 15, 2015 8:00pm