Public Inconveniences at The Courtyard
“The Vagina Monologues already did this” declare the cast of Public Inconveniences in their cheerfully sweary opening song. It’s true, there are plenty of productions out there focusing on gender politics and institutional sexism, but few can boast the humour and poignancy of CL Collective’s latest effort.
The show itself is a series of short vignettes, united by their shared location: a ladies’ loo. We rocket back and forth through time, from Beatlemania to the swinging twenties, via the modern day. This allows for a focus on a few select individuals, outlining the problems of their respective period – and problems there are a-plenty. The Pill, plastic surgery, hunger strikes and religious constriction are all analysed and explored, while celebrating the resilience and spirit of the women involved.
Special mention must go to Natacha Karam for her portrayal of a “mipster” – a Muslim hipster – who questions the link between her religious dress and the strength of her belief. Other stand-out performances come from Ignacio Martinez as a transgender Soho star questioning her own motives and choices, and from Eve Parmiter’s portrayal of an lesbian ex-servicewoman, hiding from the world and her own bitterness in the sanctity of the toilet. Equally moving as the spoken segments is the emotive dance routine, choreographed – along with the rest of the show – by director of movement Callum Evans.
This production is nothing if not even-handed. It does not criticise those women who fail to stand up to unspeakable adversary, preferring to show everyone as human rather than two-dimensional heroes and villains. The negative fallout of a patriarchal society is shown to have disastrous effects on men too, like the husband of a woman unable to give birth, or the plastic surgeon whose view of women has become so warped through his profession that his unable to see a woman without feeling an urge to “fix” them. This production shows the true damage of sexism, and the problems caused by inequality.
If someone tells you feminism is no longer relevant – or, in fact, that it can’t be funny – take them to see this.
Public Inconveniences is on at The Courtyard Theatre until 21st February 2015, for further information or to book visit here.