‘Ten Women’: An unusual title for a play with a cast of sixteen, but still strong with a critical message of changing perceptions in a time where the media appears to call the shots. Bethan Dear has written and directed this pioneering production as a way to make people question their own perceptions of beauty, and to ask the audience, “What is real?” By using ten women to relay the story of one, reinforcing that we all face the same issues, is an amiable attempt at rocking the boat – but just how successful is this work in progress at actually achieving its goal?
In true Brechtian form, ‘Ten Women’ focuses on depicting a current social and political issue through to its audience by use of various methods of Epic Theatre, such as ‘breaking the fourth wall’; an interactive and effective technique which denies the audience escapism. By talking to the audience through diary entry style monologues, the production felt more personable and involving, as if we ourselves were flicking back through memories in time, however the impact was short-lived as the overall message was lost in weak physical theatre – a poor imitation of GCSE standards at best – and a sketchy script that repeated itself in all the wrongs places, confusing the focus.
As a political and social inspired work in progress, ‘Ten Women’ has the potential to be as thought provoking as Frank Wedekinds ‘Spring Awakening’, but is currently lacking the essential controversy needed when dealing with such dynamic issues; unfortunately, women complaining about the pressures of shaving their legs just isn’t going to cut it. In an age where we are standing amidst a fourth new wave of feminism, the notion that women are objectified, hyper sexualised and exploited by the media is not novel, and therefore at this stage there is a fine line between promoting a point and just sounding like you’re whining.
Considering that the concept of ‘Ten Women’ was to make it relatable for both men and women, and considering that recently in the media it is coming to light that young boys and men are also suffering damaging confidence issues about body image, previously only acknowledged with girls, I believe that the significance of promoting self and universal acceptance would have benefitted from a male perspective.
In an attempt to end the production with a memorable and shocking experience for the audience, a few members of the cast stripped until left standing completely naked. It is a natural instinct for people to want to support you when you are at your most vulnerable, and by getting naked on stage you are not only appearing in your most vulnerable state, but at your strongest, in your most natural form. However, in a production aiming to celebrate loving the way you look, it was confusing as to why only a small few dared to stand fully naked, and left some questions as to possible issues left unresolved, leaving the overall impact slightly dampened. 3/5
Review written by Kitty Harper.
TEN WOMEN is currently showing at the Ovalhouse Theatre until Saturday 31 May. For information on the production, visit here…