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Review of I Have A Mouth And I Will Scream – Vault Festival 2018

I Have A Mouth and I Will Scream
I Have A Mouth and I Will Scream

I begin this review acutely aware of the font type I’m writing in. A strange way to open a review, you might think, but not after the printed ‘WOMANIFESTO’ given to audience members after I Have A Mouth and I Will Scream that highlights 99% of font types are designed and created by men.

This suggests that Abi Zakarian’s chaotic punk protest bricolage is very much successful in raising awareness of women’s issues: in this particular case, the patriarchal control of the very text we consume on computers, tablets, phones, books, magazines, and newspapers. I also find myself with a heightened awareness of my gender, given that I’m reviewing a play about women’s issues, but as the ripped white sloganed t-shirts worn by the six-strong female cast emphasise: “We should all be feminists.

And whilst the self-conscious Brechtian breaking of the fourth wall initially felt forced and fell flat, the instruction to “…stop complaining there’s no narrative” foregrounded one of the production’s strongest features: the series of vignette-like theatrical set pieces that each underscored a different concern or obstacle faced by women today – the relatively short duration of each one enabling the play to avoid excessive cliché or tendentiousness.

The shallow red linoleum pit that serves as director Rafaella Marcus’s stage was increasingly used to reflect the disorder and muddied complexity of the issues being showcased, as discarded clothes, flowers, IKEA instruction manuals, and much more increasingly littered the stage. Likewise, the cast’s frequent re-application of red lipstick made them look more like weary and melancholy clowns, their exaggerated and more laboured movements used to reflect the burdensome weight of society’s expectations upon women – something seen in a magnificently effective and quickly pained twerking to Sir Mixalot’s ‘Baby Got Back’.

The six actresses work throughout with Greek Chorus-like unity – a different one occasionally taking the lead to delivery a pointed monologue. Of particular note was Kayla Meikle’s narration of an impromptu faux wedding, replete with comic zeitgeist references and wounded ambivalence about her character’s decision to “marry herself”. Equally striking was Karren Winchester’s final impassioned and visceral speech expressing a hope for gender equality from birth and a commitment to continue to scream and revolt against any kind of sexism.

I Have A Mouth and I Will Scream is a riotous, sometimes hilarious, sometimes touching rocket launchpad of a play that, above all else, stimulates much-needed thought and discourse, resonating beyond its mere 60 minutes. As the sole final placard held by actress Jo Wickham states: “This is not the end.

4 stars

Review by Ben Miller

I am tired of making sense. Of being significant in a designated space. An attempt will be made … an attempt, here, tonight … please, please …
I Have A Mouth And I Will Scream is a play-performance- art-protest- thing. Six women are playing a game. They jostle for space. They argue. They try to address every single feminist issue in the space of 60 minutes. One of them dresses up as Ripley from Alien. Everything gets trashed.

Originating as a short play commissioned by Damsel Productions and Pint-Sized, and now presented in its entirety for the first time, I Have A Mouth And I Will Scream is a fascinating piece of sharp, foul-mouthed new writing that plays form as much as it plays with gender roles.

We should all be feminists, but that doesn’t mean we know how. I Have A Mouth And I Will Scream runs in the Cavern, 14-18 February 2018

VAULT Festival
The Vaults
Leake Street
Waterloo, London SE1 7NN

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