At a time when Ireland’s abortion referendum is floating in the air, the clashes of Catholicism’s conservatism with a liberalising society are prominent and pressing. Meg Hodgson and Alex Legge form the dynamic duo MEGANDALEX in a raucous production that turns the Catholic mass into a sort of disco-like rollercoaster. With a soundtrack of classic tunes from Bruno Mars to Belinda Carlise, we boogie our way through the up-beat mass, discovering along the way the contradictions and issues Catholicism holds for a girl becoming a woman in the twenty-first century.
It is intensely empowering the way these feminist issues are brought to light in a fun and free atmosphere; Meg and Alex seem to own the space as they explore their struggles with their families and their past religion. The production is hilarious and a lot of fun to watch, but the turmoil and genuine struggles that their experience holds is not lost on us. By modernising the mass, we see starkly how easy it could be to feel disconnected from a religion that is becoming archaic, condoning homophobia and frowning upon sexual freedom. As the religion is humanised it simultaneously becomes demonised, but it’s also not as simple as that.
Above anything, Bodies (broken 4 u) is intensely personal. There is no disconnect between the audience and Meg and Alex as they openly share every detail with us. We feel intensely connected to their production process as they re-enact the arguments and tiffs they had whilst making the show. There is no pretence here, and real or not; the Facebook arguments they reveal are hilariously accurate and relatable.
In personalising their show, Meg and Alex allow the audience to sympathise with the genuine stickiness involved in losing a religion. For all the faults acknowledged, Catholicism isn’t portrayed as a devilish force. Meg and Alex clearly have a personal connection entwined with their childhood memories and families that makes the ‘break-up’ more complicated. Catholicism evolves into a toxic ex-boyfriend who didn’t contribute enough to the relationship and wouldn’t compromise to accommodate the other person.
Although there are moments when the characters breaking into song seems a bit random and unnecessary, it generally contributes to the overall vibe of the two of them just having a good time in the way they want to, unconstrained by a dogmatism that would have limited them. We can appreciate and applaud the difficulty of their decision, whilst accepting that it is a part of growing up and taking control so that they can live their lives independently and freely.
Bodies (broken 4 u) played at the Camden People’s Theatre until 30 January 2018
Photo: Dani Harvey