Edinburgh Fringe 2014
Thought-provoking and disorienting, this hour of aural and textual acrobatics left me deep in thought about the indelible stain of sexism on today’s society.
Sirens has got to be one of the most constantly surprising and engaging shows at the Fringe. Ontroerend Goed take a tremendously innovative and affecting look at everyday sexism and the deeply ingrained misogyny in our society and vocabulary. This should be shown to teenage boys and girls up and down the country.
We enter a dark, silent space and become attuned to the nothingness before the aural onslaught begins. The silence is pierced by the bizarre sounds of a vocal warm up being performed by six women. Once illuminated, we can see that these are opera singers. Or so it seems….
After much faffing about, the first sound we hear is far from operatic. It is the shriek of six banshees, of six sirens. We are guided through a maze of sounds – guttural, nasal, pharyngeal, oral, percussive – before eventually emerging into a clearing of words. The abstract and the musical make way for the concrete and the verbal. Words suddenly sound very precious and purposeful.
Even though the women are now speaking words there is a rhythm and a beat driving them forward. They deliver monologues and insults and jokes selflessly and with a wry detachment. A shamefully long list of misogynistic jokes is the most powerful moment; they don’t stop coming and they’re never funny… but they exist. Why aren’t there that many jokes about men?
The performances are uniformly precise and considered. The cast have fun when they can and deliver their damning evidence without emotion or indulgence so as to let the very powerful words do the work.
Some of the points are a bit on the nose, the endless barrage of sexism slightly numbs me – I can’t attach it to a human story, so it is sometimes hard to identify with. However, this is the point. It’s a flood of sexism, an avalanche, an armageddon. And, like a natural disaster, it feels merciless and unstoppable. The obvious point is; there is an abundance of sexism among us and within us, but it CAN be stopped. It must be stopped.