Review of Women’s Hour and Pretty Ugly at Camden People’s Theatre

Camden People's Theatre LogoWomen’s Hour and Pretty Ugly are part of Calm Down, Dear 2: a festival of feminism at the Camden People’s Theatre.

Women’s Hour by Sh!t Theatre was performed by two young women with faces painted white, wearing white shirts, white shorts, ties and BBC passes. One had her face made up as a woman, the other as a man.

There was cabaret with lovely singing and harmonies, guitar playing, dancing and ‘funny’ movements. This was interspersed with negative Tweets of sexual violence and death threats for women who had dared to speak out. It took the BBC 4 Women’s Hour, which it mocked and praised with sexy, breathy voices and turned it on its head.

This was a really enjoyable and thought-provoking show, by two very funny women. It was light but had an important message. A lot of work had gone into it and I liked the transitions. For me the funniest part was their take on the fact that tampons are classified as luxury items by our government, but not beer or sugar flowers.

Pretty UglyThe second show of the evening was Pretty Ugly by Louise Orwin, a one woman show with dolls and several costume changes. This was an interactive performance with film, music and texts. She challenged the disturbing phenomena of depressed, vulnerable girls who made videos of themselves and asked strangers to rate them, whether they were pretty or ugly by making her own video.

This was a really important but disturbing piece. Why are these young girls making such videos? Why can’t they talk to people they know and why is their self esteem so low? I had never heard of these videos but why are these girls opening up themselves for trolls? Louise Orwinwas very much in control of this piece despite some technical hitches. We entered into her world for 1 hour and 20 minutes, which was a rather long, but very moving experience. She threw up lots of questions especially about body image and the desire of the vulnerable for approval from people who have only malice in their hearts.

These were two very different pieces. The first one had a lot of interesting things to say but I wanted more. Louise Orwin’s piece needed to be tightened up, I left feeling disturbed and wondering how the women’s movement had completely missed these young girls by.

3 Star Review

Review by Charlotte Jennings

Calm Down, Dear: The Festival of Feminism returns for a second year of theatre, performance, comedy, cabaret, dance and discussion at Camden People’s Theatre, 24th September to 12th October.

Women’s Hour uses satire, song, movement and mess to interrogate how the media portrays women, the obsessive binarity of gender in modern life and the effect that it has on the treatment of women in our society. It is based on the popular BBC Radio 4 magazine programme, Woman’s Hour, and is at once an homage to and a critique of the show. Women’s Hour is set in a supposed alternative universe, a surreal parallel of today. It is a combination of invented new segments and verbatim text taken from the BBC radio show. By juxtaposing the two without signal as to which is invented and which is reality, Sh!t Theatre aim to highlight just how strange, unnecessary and darkly funny gender binaries can be.

Pretty Ugly: Creator/performer Louise Orwin says: “this show is about you rating me based solely on my looks. It is also about a worldwide trend of teenage girls posting videos on YouTube asking viewers to rate their looks, and about my trail of research into the world of the teenage social networker to try and understand why.” After news stories about trolling and cyber-bullying, CPT presents the electrifying Pretty Ugly, by London-based performance and video-maker Louise Orwin. It was developed as part of CPT’s Starting Blocks scheme and was part of CPT’s first Feminism of Festival in 2013. Pretty Ugly is now embarking on a national tour.

Listings Information
Calm Down Dear: A Festival of Feminism
Camden People’s Theatre, 58 – 60 Hampstead Road, London, NW1 2PY
24th September to 12th October 2014
Various times
Suitable for ages 12+
08444 77 1000

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