Reviews Exeter Published 28 March 2013

Flushed

Bike Shed Theatre ⋄ 19th March – 6th April 2013

Blaming your body.

Belinda Dillon

As part of their three-week residency at the Bike Shed Theatre, Exeter-based company Theatre Rush have brought in other all-female companies to showcase their work (including Little Soldier Productions’ You and Me) and to collaborate on a new piece, Strange, as well as performing the extended version of their own devised work, Flushed.

First seen as part of last year’s Ignite Festival, this semi-autobiographical piece has grown, despite losing a performer (Associate Member Robyn Steyn is currently working South Africa). Now featuring three narrative strands rather than the original four, the distinct yet interlocking monologues feel richer for the increased focus, allowing Chloe Whipple, Katie Villa and Becky Baker to explore their narratives more intently. The result is a very funny interrogation of what it means to be a woman in the modern world, but while it comes across as disarmingly frothy at times, there’s a dark undercurrent that tugs constantly at the humour, revealing depths of unease about sexuality, body image and maternal instinct.

The only prop a free-standing bathtub, the performers are either in bathrobes or underwear, exposed in a conventional sense just as their narratives expose their thought processes and internal struggles. One muses on whether her lack of success in relationships with men means that she must be a lesbian; the second on body issues rooted in the experience of childbirth; the third delivers a guide on invulnerability while failing to ignore the creeping fear of a lonely future. All tap into our concerns about who we are and where we’re going, drawing from the well of confusion created by relational, cultural and societal pressures.

All three performers deliver great comic performances, getting the most out of the finely tuned script. I loved it the first time around, but now there’s so much more, the discomfort lurking beneath the laughter a little more exposed. In all three narratives there’s an underlying theme of disconnection from the body, a sense of dislocation from that which should feel ‘natural’. Whether that’s feeling so overwhelmed by the proliferation of sexualised imagery of women that you can’t decipher how you ‘feel’; or distressed that you don’t rush with instant love for your child, blaming your body for failing to make that immediate visceral connection ‘everyone’ talks about; or suppressing deep physical urges, fearing that your body is driving you to make desperate choices”¦ all point to sources of insecurity and yet encourage hope through the humour, revealing a resourceful ability to keep moving forward, finding succour in friendship and creative expression.

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Belinda Dillon

Originally from London, Belinda is an editor and writer now living in Exeter. She goes to as much theatre as the day job will allow. When not sitting in the dark, or writing about sitting in the dark, she likes to drink wine, read 19th-century novels and practice taxidermy. Your cat is very beautiful. Is it old?

Flushed Show Info


Produced by Theatre Rush

Cast includes Chloe Whipple, Katie Villa, Becky Baker

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

Running Time 1 hour (no interval)

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