A Feminist’s Guide to the Festivals: Fringe shows about blood, sex and bodies (in time order)

Tetra-Decathlon by Showroom

From femininity to fertility, menstruation to infantilisation, no topic is off-limits in this eclectic selection of shows about bodies.

“A six-foot woman and a sex doll take on femininity. In a world where femininity obsesses over smallness in size, voice, opinion and ambition, one six-foot woman and a sex doll smash through walls and ceilings to explore how women can embrace bigness in a big physical romp. An unapologetic exploration into the apologetic world of women, a defiant call to confidence. Coccinellidae combines clown, physical theatre, audio testimonies (big testimonies) of over 100 women exploring their bigness that are woven into the live soundscape. Coccinellidae joyously challenges us to celebrate our unique bigness.”

“The Tetra-Decathlon is a gruelling 14-event athletics competition, requiring a unique combination of skills to complete. Having never before set foot on a running track, Lauren Hendry decided to sign up for the event, joining only a dozen other women in the World Championships. This audacious solo show directed by double Fringe First winner Jenna Watt charts Lauren’s journey as she trains for and competes in this most taxing of sporting events whilst asking pertinent questions about the psychology of sport and what drives us to compete. Tetra-Decathlon is a celebration of coming last and coming back for more…”

Baby Face
“Hey baby! Welcome to a world of knee socks, bunches, lollipops, bubblegum and models adopting the childlike expressions of six-year-old girls. A daring exploration into the paradox of living in a society that continues to infantilise women. Paedophilia is not OK yet fetishised images of women as prepubescent girls are. In this brave and outlandish performance a grown woman attempts to be your baby to discover if innocence really is as sexy as we’re told it is. Winner of the Autopsy Award 2018.”

F**k You Pay Me
“An anarchic, unprecedented and hilarious insight into the life of a stripper in London’s fast-changing cityscape. It’s lunchtime, Bea hasn’t slept, and she’s dreading going home to face the consequences of last night; when her Catholic mum found out what she really does for a living… Directed by Fringe First winner Bethany Pitts, with live sound from DJ Kitt Proudfoot. ‘The euphoric sound of a women reclaiming her power’ ***** (App.Hiive.co.uk). ‘A thoroughly entertaining hour of fleabag-ish fun’ (Stage). ‘Impeccable comic timing’ **** (TheatreBubble.com). Winner: People’s Choice Award, Vault Festival 2018.”

The Forecast
“In a backyard near you, in the not too distant future, four women from four corners of the globe float in mid-air. Fleeing war, poverty and environmental destruction they now have a new job: human garden ornaments. Tethered to their new reality (and each other), this four-way odd couple bicker, banter and are forced to confront what freedom means to them. Inspired by George Saunder’s short-story The Semplica Girl Diaries, The Forecast teems with stories, songs, secrets, shadows, giant dresses… and women hanging by a thread. ‘A gripping, thought-provoking script, beautifully directed and brilliantly acted’ ****1/2 (TheReviewsHub.com).”

“Egg is a powerful and evocative new aerial theatre production from acclaimed circus theatre company Paper Doll Militia, a highly visual exploration of female fertility, sexuality and choice. Weaving together personal testimony, live original music and stunning aerial artistry, the piece takes audiences on a deeply personal and political journey, following the true story of a woman who gave her eggs to her friend to have a child. Paper Doll Militia are an Edinburgh/LA-based aerial theatre company, combining visual theatre with innovative aerial, acrobatic choreography and multimedia. Referred to as ‘the sophisticated circus of now’ (Edinburgh Review).”

“Well, ain’t womanhood the gift that keeps on giving? When Harriet (Funny Women semi-finalist, best-selling author, two highly acclaimed solo Edinburgh runs) hits the menopause, she faces night terrors, painful joints and a baffling new fear of swimming. Harriet’s searingly honest, hysterically funny account of oestrogen armageddon includes getting hypnotised next to a noisy loo, scamming “underage” HRT… and a lot of wondering if anyone else really knows what the heck they’re meant to be doing in Pilates? ‘Hilarious’ (FringeReview.co.uk). ‘If the BBC hadn’t sacked me I’d definitely have Harriet on my show’ (Fred MacAulay).”

Lady and the Cramp (free)
“A tongue-in-cheek, bursting-at-the-seams (literally), all-female musical cabaret troupe. We celebrate the female experience in all its splendid and not-so-splendid variety. We cover topics from tampon tax to getting that dodgy wax!”

Body Shop
“The body is a unique object in human experience; both object and objectified, yet the body is also subject. A skeleton of monologues fleshed out with spoken word and physical theatre, Body Shop travels head to toe exploring varied aspects of British womanhood, starting with the environmental universe of the body. The game is simple: players must select body parts to build a woman in the shortest time. But when play is both off-kilter and online, can a feminine figure figure a femme? Does womanhood transcend the physical self? BRB, we’ll get back 2 u on that.”

30 Days of Blood
“Blood, sweat, and… tampons? Sara’s period just won’t stop – she is covered in it – or is it the blood of her last victim that still sticks warm on her limbs? Watch her fight a storm of tampons and confront her ridiculously handsome vegan housemate before breaking out into song while ripping apart raw meat. Anyone can enjoy this visceral cabaret exploration of womanhood, a highly sensory experience featuring live music and physical comedy. After all, everybody bleeds from time to time.”

Published by Shona Craven

Writer, editor, talking head

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