Observations: Trilogy is the feminist Fringe hit that puts the treat into treatise
Friday 08 January 2010
Amid all the braying comedians and C-listers slumming it on last year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the show that really got people talking was a thoughtful piece of performance art by a young, Glasgow-based feminist. Nic Green's three-hour-long Trilogy, which arrives in London this month, is that unfashionable thing, a feminist treatise. On paper, it shouldn't have been a hit, but audiences loved it. Bloggers and reviewers hurled superlatives. The Poet Laureate came to see it, and brought her 14-year-old daughter with her.
Trilogy looks at the past, future and present of feminism. It engages with the energy of the first-wave 1970s movement, using footage of the 1971 debate filmed as Town Bloody Hall. However, it also asks simple questions about the state of contemporary female self image.
At one point, 50 naked women, all local volunteers, march on stage in a thrillingly life-affirming dance. It's not the nudity that shocks but the realisation that we just don't see female bodies like this, anywhere in the media. They've been airbrushed out of sight, and we don't question it. But this is what female bodies look like: they droop and point and age and bulge; they ripple with sinews and capability. And marching, stomping and punching the air in time to Pixies' "Broken Face", they're beautiful.
"There were women in the group [of volunteers] who said things like, 'I've never even been naked in front of my boyfriend'," says Sophie Younger, a mother of four sons between 15 and 21, and one of the oldest volunteers to take part. "It drew people who wanted to do it as a cathartic thing for themselves because they'd always had hang-ups about their body, as well as women who had been drawn in by the profundity of what Nic Green was trying to achieve."
If parts of the audience perhaps turned up because they'd heard the production contained extensive female nudity, they stayed because they were being charmed, entertained and challenged. The passion and charismatic conviction the performers bring to the piece really has to be experienced first-hand.
"I had no sense of vulnerability, or of being a woman dancing naked for an audience, but neither did I feel 'empowered'. I just felt an absolute joy to be dancing to the Pixies, on that stage," says Younger. "It only wavered if I met audience members during the interval: I'd think, well, I haven't seen you naked, so you've got a slight advantage there! However, I am very happy to think that Carol Ann Duffy has seen me naked. That thought has carried me through the year."
Trilogy at BAC, London, 13 to 16 January; Barbican, London, 22 & 23 January; Nuffield Theatre, Lancaster, 30 January (Nicgreen.org.uk)
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 4 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
- 5 Denmark bans kosher and halal slaughter as minister says ‘animal rights come before religion’
Best TV shows on Netflix: 26 series to binge on
'Phallic symbols' found hidden in famous Pre-Raphaelite painting 'Isabella' by John Everett Millais
Top Gear Burma episode breached Ofcom rules over Jeremy Clarkson's racial slur
Game of Thrones season 4 blooper reel unveiled at Comic-Con 2014
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan