To quote Caitlin Moran’s bestseller, “How to be a Woman?” is a question far less threatening for today’s society. More women (and men) are calling themselves feminists, which is exactly what these six performers are.
The show opens to the sound of the six voices united in perfect and unfaltering discord, scream-singing as they stare us straight in the eyes. The sound snatches to silence like a trap door slammed shut, almost like it never happened. They are poised behind music stands, dressed in gowns of different colour and style, all upholding formidable beauty of their very own.
The score plays out, comprised of stories, thoughts and facts that make up the intricate orchestra of mouth, mind and heart. All of the women are superbly comical in their poker-face delivery, leaving it up to us to have an opinion on what we hear. Questions of gender are consistently raised; hierarchy, social status, power, sex and appearance are subjects serenaded to us. Although serious for the most part, the delivery is light and playful. I find it hard not to laugh intermittently at the stream of misogyny spoken in staccato; some of the jokes are deeply uncomfortable to listen to but we still laugh, finding humour in the horror.
Written by the actresses Karolien De Bleser, Charlotte De Bruyne, Marjan Deschutter, Aurélie Lannoy, Anemone Valcke and Verona Verbakel, and directed by Alexander Devriendt, credit has to be given to the time taken in the rehearsal room to create this unique experience. The composition by Joris Blanckaert has woven these women’s experiences and imaginations with such precision that there is no moment unheard or undervalued.
Every man, woman and child is influenced by the behaviour around them in one way or another. These women give us the option to reconsider our opinion on how we think about women and each other. A line that resonates with me is, “I want to stop seeing myself through the eyes of others”: a concept considered by us all in the face of insecurity and inhibition, regardless of our sex and age. By seeing one another as equal we are lessening the likelihood of discrimination, for the most part at least.
These women have set the standard for theatre that is changing the world we live in for the better. I leave fascinated by them all, and fixated on my personal views about myself and others in my life. A candescent cacophony that will be heard far into to the future – a must-hear for all!
Sirens is playing at the Soho Theatre until 3 January 2015. For more information and tickets, see the Soho Theatre website.