Laura Eades’ body has taken a holiday from her brain. Or perhaps it’s more of an estrangement; neither is ideal seeing as she’s just ended up – due to adverse weather conditions – on the moon. That’ll teach her to take a budget airline. To make life stranger (if such things were possible) she’s completely naked and seven and a half months pregnant.
Holiday is a wonderfully surreal piece, full of the folksy, entertaining style of The Honourable Society of Faster Craftswomen. It’s smart and funny if perhaps a touch too cerebral to be really joyous. Last year Eades and her husband had a holiday booked. Blue seas and cloudless skies awaited them, but first they had to get through one of the largest snow storms in modern history- and so from one unplanned event came another as their baby was conceived in a complimentary airline hotel room and Eades’ body became its own entity.
The piece is at its best when the visceral is celebrated without the need for verbal analysis. As cocktails are made and naked volleyball played (with two volunteers in the audience, who – impressively – also get naked) the sheer exuberance of a body without any mental constraint is experienced. I wonder if Eades has felt, as a lot of women do, that through her pregnancy her body has been over-taken, got out of control, and followed these discombobulating experiences through to their logical conclusion. To this end she has created a naked theatrical jamboree which confines the brain to a tinny voice in a box whilst the body wears sombreros and jiggles about on stage.
This is a clever idea but it doesn’t quite work. Firstly the sequences where brain and body converse feel clunky because there are pauses where pauses shouldn’t be. Eades is totally comfortable being naked on stage, pulling some blush-inducing poses. But as a consummate poet she is not so at home with the concept of unpolished prose or even possibly, silence. As such this exploration of self, body and identity is too textual to be the work of anything other than a very wordy brain. Eades may be physically exposed but she wears her words like a shield. She may have finally fulfilled an ambition to be nude on stage but she is still hiding herself from the audience.
As such her confessionals about intimate bohemian moments at university and about knowing that she’s an exhibitionist lack punch and, whilst she does opes herself up on stage, nothing dangerous or truly revealing happens. All spoken word performances run this risk: the words become a sophisticated verbal safety net. But in Holiday Eades shows us that she has a physical side raring to break free, an instinct to do something without thought and eloquence, to show us something raw and unfinished – to be truly naked. I think it is possible; she just has to trust that sometimes the mind should take a back seat.