WOMEN'S HOUR, NEW DIORAMA - REVIEW

Informed by the trained disciplines of music, performance art and improvisation, Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit as Sh!t Theatre devised Women’s Hour last year. Taking its name from the BBC 4 radio show, it examined how the media viewed women and sifted through the subtle (and not so subtle) sexism women face on a day-to-day basis.

Using humour hugely to their advantage, Sh!T Theatre have been able to broach many topics that would have been hard to address, often ‘saying the unsayable’ and occasionally using ‘unpolitical correctness’ to acknowledge ‘the elephants in the room’. The use and comments regarding old adverts, parodies of them and news clips were extremely funny, but every so often beneath their ‘velvet gloves’, Women’s Hour packed a whallop. In one Gertrude Stein-inspired segment, the repetition and permutation of negative online comments against women became more and more oppressive, as the naked vehemence intensified. In between the moments of mirth and satire, the moments of reflection had greater potency.

I did manage to catch Women’s Hour at Camden People’s Theatre’s Calm Down Dear (feminism) festival last year, though I never wrote about it at the time. Having watched the show performed again recently at New Diorama, it re-affirmed what I’ve felt about Women’s Hour on its first viewing. In the past couple of years I’ve seen many shows that have addressed feminist politics and the media’s scrutiny of the female body image. However for my money, Women’s Hour has at the back of my mind been the yardstick for measuring how successfully feminism is communicated onstage. Women’s Hour casts a long shadow on other shows of a similar nature and its intelligence burns from beginning to end, positively incendiary. The best thing is that as a young company, Sh!T Theatre have an over-abundance of ideas with a passion for theatre to match, so we can expect to hear from them for many years to come.

© Michael Davis

Women’s Hour ran at the Incoming Festival at New Diorama on 6th June 2015.

Author's review: 
4