Feminism and beauty are topics that are often tackled by fringe theatre, with varying results. The Feral Foxy Ladies, however, have succeeded in creating an exciting, moving and brilliant piece of theatre that has an important message about the perception of female beauty. While avoiding preaching to the audience, the idea that from a young age society is being taught that women should put paint on their faces and put metal in their ears is confronted and challenged.
Using a conversation with her two young nephews as a stimulus, the show’s director, writer and producer Claire Stone seeks to explore why we do the things we do to make us appear beautiful. While she was getting dressed, her nephews asked her why she was putting paint on her face, and why she was putting metal in hear ears. This led her to question why she was doing these things, and the fact that her doing this is teaching them that this is what women do. And therefore, what they may grow up to expect of them. The production presents this simple point that has never occurred to me previously but now feels very important. What expectation are we creating in the next generation?
The exploration of this question and the dilemma surrounding it comes in the form of a staggeringly deft one-woman performance using elements of text, movement, physical comedy, voice-over and film to create a totally engaging piece of theatre. Katherine Vince plays the stunning everywoman who covers herself in lotions and potions and powders but can’t help but wonder why. The cleverly used motif of letters to various bodies she feels have wronged her lets us into her gripes and difficulties with the reality of having to live up to the expectations put on her by society, be these monetary, ethical or emotional.
Becoming more erratic throughout the show, Vince’s performance is both comedic and tragic in just the right measures to create something beautiful. One particular section, using the voice-overs of people talking about what they don’t like about their bodies, and more importantly what they do, is moulded into a movement sequence, with Vince embodying the anxieties and prides of the various faceless contributors.
The triumph of this show is its ability to make you question the standards that we are usually just happy to accept, yet avoid preaching or forcing you into a mindset which the creators prescribe. This is a freeing and important piece of theatre.
I Got Dressed In Front of My Nephew Today is playing at ZOO (Venue 124) until 30 August as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For tickets and more information, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.