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Reviews Performance Published 29 September 2014

Women’s Hour

Camden People's Theatre ⋄ 25th Sepetmebr 2014

Funny, angry and whip-smart.

Lauren Mooney

If Sh!t Theatre hadn’t told me, I might not have realised how privileged I am: did you know, ladies, that for the next few weeks, there are literally two full hours out of every day just for us? Not only is there still Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, which the BBC have been putting out since 1946, but now there is also Women’s Hour, on at Camden People’s Theatre as part of their feminist theatre festival Calm Down Dear. A hotchpotch of ideas and skits and jokes considering what it means to be female in 2014, Women’s Hour is part-comedy, part-theatre, part-performance art and loads of fun to watch.

It’s a whistle-stop tour through a huge range of ideas, and performer-devisers Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit take no prisoners, poking fun at everything from the seemingly insignificant to big, deep-seated problems. So many recent disappointments are in here, from newly gendered Kinder Eggs to tampons being taxed at the level of a ‘luxury item’ (because they’re a luxury rather than a necessity – unlike, say, marshmallow teacakes) that you could watch Women’s Hour with a feminist Bingo card, but they’re funny and original in their treatment of each thing. And although there are certain ideas they return to, it’s only with good reason – to build on a joke, for instance, or flip it on its head. Sh!t Theatre don’t dwell on any of these ideas or problems for too long, meaning nothing outstays its welcome.

Obviously plenty of other people have talked about the myriad ways in which the media shits on women, but the combination of elements Sh!t Theatre bring in – not only sketches but music and clowning – keep Women’s Hour feeling fresh, when it might feel tired in other hands. It’s an unashamedly smart hour of experimental theatre, but no less accessible for being those things, perhaps because it’s so funny. And humour does seem to be the choice weapon of the feminist movement at the moment, but to me, that makes perfect sense. Sexism seems so entrenched, so ubiquitous, if you couldn’t laugh about it you’d just fucking weep.

Speaking of things that make you want to cry, have you ever heard this remarkable love song? Because I lost my mind about twenty minutes into Women’s Hour when they played it and I just cannot stop thinking about it. In fact, disclaimer: if none of this review makes sense, please blame it on that song. My brain is working less well now because a good 20% of it is going to be devoted at all times until my death to wondering why it exists and what the fuck ever happened to romance.

Anyway.

Both Biscuit and Mothersole are engaging performers, even in odd moments where the show feels shaky – which are surprisingly rare considering that I saw Women’s Hour the, what, third time they’d ever had a go at it? It’s whip-smart and relentless, skit after skit after skit, like a radio being retuned every few minutes, in a way that defies classification. It’s not a sketch show exactly, but it shares some sensibilities with sketch, and it leaves you feeling exhausted, wrung out by how funny it is but also how accurate, how infuriating.

And there’s a steely cold anger that runs through absolutely every moment in this show like a tent-pole, holding the whole thing up. You might only glimpse it for moments at a time, but you know it’s there. The performers seem almost angry about how angry they are, with the pace dropping several times for quiet, confessional, autobiographical moments (or at least they seem autobiographical) told into a microphone in the dark like a secret. Sh!t Theatre are out to make you laugh for a good 55 out of this show’s 60 minutes, and they do it with ease, but they demand to be taken seriously too.

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Lauren Mooney

Lauren Mooney is a writer, producer and arts administrator based in London. As well as writing for Exeunt and The Stage, Lauren works at Clean Break and is the writer-producer for Kandinsky.

Women’s Hour Show Info


Produced by Sh!t Theatre

Written by Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit

Cast includes Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit

Link http://www.cptheatre.co.uk/

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