Edinburgh Fringe 2013
Serotonin Syndrome Productions
Venue: Gryphon Venues
Festival: Edinburgh Fringe
Shiny white teethed ‘girlies’…being good…being pink….being slim….being smiley…being easy… being pretty…if you feel the contradictions of the world you’re too complex….if you feel too deeply then pull back…shove it down…swallow that thinking and apply some more mascara coes there’s something wrong with you lady….Play the game…if you can’t then use food…use shame…use self-doubt and self- blame….use drugs…use hypnotic trance…use even Yoga obsessively and angrily and desperately in a frantic urgent hungry escape from the rising hysteria of woman….The burden of guilt…negative self-talk….trapped in those ever so heavy memories… carrying the past on ones back…all the issues are here and explored in inventive, bold and varied theatrical approaches….This is a difficult piece of theatre to describe and categorise.
The piece wasn’t classical theatre with a beginning middle and an end although there was a narrative, character work, a thread of issues and a resolution – of sorts. It was physical and expressive and odd and disjointed and instantly illuminating and utterly perplexing and excruciatingly painful and uncomfortable and delightful all at once. It wasn’t formulaic as storytelling nor as expressive as a piece of physical theatre – there were moments of surreal educational and conversational moments…at times we were chatting together intimately…at times unwilling observers to something skin crawlingly intimate and uncomfortable….at times witness to darkness and ugliness we were fascinated by despite ourselves.
The scene at the beginning introducing the characters culminated in a stomach punching moment which made the air palpable with tension and horror…this could have been developed further as at this moment they truly had our attention…the change of voice made the feminine stereotypes seem even darker in their forced so called womanhood.
The performers used what seemed like tight choreography, together with some improvisation…some physical theatre…some expressive dance….some audience interaction…some teaching methods…some theatre….some psychodrama…..it was a mixture of approaches and moods and very experimental in nature.
There were moments that felt like the flow had been interrupted and the audience were lost…the scene with the Doctor started to lose its impact and I wonder if this should have been shortened. The mad frenzied scene at the end was breath-taking in the commitment of the performers but lost an opportunity for a more climatic resolution and clearer mood change, which would have had more impact…Sometimes I felt a little distracted, a little confused, waiting for it to start…to move on…for some sort of clarification that never came.
But overall it was thought provoking and exciting and I loved that their exploration didn’t leave us cold and solitary…it didn’t feel like we were lonely observers in their experimental process. We felt like human souls invited to join the ride of looking over the gate, under neon lights, at the absurdity of human frailty….modern day American femininity just one aspect of this