Edinburgh Fringe 2023
HIGH STEAKS is a show about labia, labia-shaming, cosmetic surgery and fundamentally, body lovin’. ELOINA hangs two beef steaks from her labia, butchers them up and sizzles them on a grill.
We first meet Eloina when she shyly sticks her head out from a curtain. Not sure if she’s coming to meet the full audience at the Anatomy Lecture theatre – which is the most appropriate space for Eloina’s one person theatre piece with a dash of performance art. Wearing an interesting dress she ventures out, makes a little music and introduces herself. The small circular stage is set with a long metal table and high chair with a small round mirror.
With total sincerity Eloina talks to us and casually asks us questions. Audience members respond and we are off on a journey full of seemingly little known facts and putting us straight about labia. Given the openness and discussions today about gender and sexuality the mechanics of labia are oft misunderstood. For example, Eloina shares information and anecdotes – while preparing a meal, literally – about real body shaming examples. Sometimes there are recorded voice over stories from others and Eloina continues chopping salad and seasoning it.
The audience sits on several rows of semi circular risers looking down on Eloina, like in a turn of the century medical lecture demo, but this is much more fun and informative. Eloina sets out to demystify and demonstrate to both vulva owners and non vulva owners that there is no one standard acceptable set of labia in colour and shape and to accept every pair of labia without scorn or embarrassment.
Based on her research Eloina found that many people are opting for labiaplasty or think they need it for cosmetic or self-esteem reasons and she is here to share the low down. Hopefully this will relieve those with labia from making this choice. Comments about one’s own labia in intimate situations as well as so called perfect labia conformity by partners, friends and the media pressurize the uptick of labiaplasty. Eloina is on a mission and it’s a vital mission and everyone can benefit – and be entertained, from her performance. It’s message is powerful and Eloina stops at nothing to get her point across.
There is much humour in this piece due to Eloina’s interactions and her personality driven comments. She also shares stories about how she grew up and how her mothers influence about being open about the body and personal situations influenced her in writing and performing this show. Her mother also appears in the showand it’s a wonderful addition to this narrative – and cuts out a lot of questions or doubts anyone watching may think of as they watch.
There are also tender moments with irony and a genuine desire to inform but in a daring, brave and entertaining way so that it’s easier to listen, consider then reflect on this topic. Her intention is clear and yet it is not a hard push, Eloina shares the information in a unique way that allows everyone in the audience to get the message and consider the facts. Eloise is a natural performer who is not afraid to tackle an important – and in some cultures a taboo subject. She is ready to add spontaneous comments to the already well crafted play which is very well received by the audience. This is important theatre and should be required viewing in as many venues and forums as possible to lower the rate of body shaming of labia and to help people reconsider whether labiaplasty is needed for any reason.