“Isn’t she lovely?” is not what you will leave this performance saying. Women’s Hour demolishes any patronising social niceties with flying crumpets, writhing bodies and astute political theatre. Presented by the audaciously named Sh!t Theatre, BBC Radio 4’s show is hilariously subverted to produce an observant, sharp and contemporary performance.
Duo Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit take to the stage with painted white faces, cans of Stella and drawn-on moustaches. From the outset, the script is witty and is filled with pointed comments about the depiction of women in today’s society and media. With the audience rammed in (some disappointed Latitude revellers had to be turned away), this is a great setting for Sh!t Theatre who interact with the crowd and ad lib around the festival’s staging limitations.
While there are many plays that tackle the issue of feminism currently, what makes Women’s Hour stand apart is the quality of the script and its quick nature. The sketch on sexism shown towards women serial killers with the accompanying hash-tag, #everydayserialkillersexism, is a great bit of contemporary writing. Another gag that keeps the show fresh is the section on tampons being taxed as a luxurious item. With this making headlines again recently, Mothersole and Biscuit hilariously act out the absurdity of this categorisation – relaxing bath and a tampon anyone? With festival-goers notoriously restless, the quickness of the sketches keeps the audience laughing and engaged, and if some parts do not get the same response, the show’s energy does not wane as it has already moved on.
The multimedia aspects of Women’s Hour ensure that the show retains a lighter tone. Truly alarming and horrible subject matters are depicted, but they are not dwelt upon. By using a slideshow of adverts, recreating their own disgusting lyrics to Jason Derulo’s ‘Talk Dirty to Me’ and putting their own spin on Nigella and Delia, Sh!t Theatre spotlights the frequently farcical portrayal of females in contemporary society. And, it should be noted that this is all done without alienating and damning the entirety of the male half of the human race.
Women’s Hour takes on a flagship British show format and turns it upside down. What tumbles out is a hilarious mixture of obscenities, politics and feminism.
Women’s Hour played at Latitude Festival and is playing at Summerhall, Edinburgh Fringe from 5-30 August. For tickets and more information, see the Edinburgh Fringe website. Photo: Victor Frankowski.