In ‘Mind, Modernity and Madness’, Liah Greenfeld writes that “A widely held idea (say, that hell awaits those who eat flesh on Fridays, or that all men are created equal) is no less a reality for people in the community holding the idea than the Atlantic Ocean”. Her bracingly forthright sociological study goes on to dismiss those who “diagnose entire cultures as psychotic...retroactively pronounce medieval saints schizophrenics”.
At first, It Folds feels baffling, a blur whose beauty defies close analysis. It blurs the boundaries between life and death, making the ghosts of murdered children walk among their grieving families. It blurs the lines between truth and fiction, drawing on real-life stories of child abduction but muddying their details until they become universal. And most of all, it blurs the categories we place performance into. Its large cast mix dance, physical theatre, matter-of-fact monologues and disconcerting wit into a piece that creates a incense-heady atmosphere of its own.
The sexism that Mary Shelley experienced while trying to write literary classic Frankenstein is unfortunately still an immediate and modern concern as literary award shortlists continue to be male dominated. Making Monsters does its best to explore the feminist context surrounding the creation of this psychologically gripping, and essentially modern landmark text.
It's not just African AIDS statistics that Njambi McGrath carries around with her; she bears the generational physical and mental scars of Kenya’s colonial past. Teresa Mays recent political wrangling to scrape The Human Rights Act seem unsurprising when Njambi offers an African’s insight into the systematic extermination of the populations of Kenya and DRC by European Imperialists. It's the West's inability to see the hypocrisy in lecturing Africa Nations on human rights that has recently led to Gambia withdrawing from The Commonwealth.
Hyena asks us to defy the feminine. Romana Soutus employs cold roast chicken and prominent pubic hair in a visceral and provocative piece of performance. Like Chloe Khan, Big Brother's Enfant Terrible de jour seemingly defiant in the face of slut shamers, Romana wears her Louboutin's (red soles a homage to Paris's prostitutes) with pride.
Hero Worship deals with comics as a coping mechanism and is the latest in a series of monologues by admired writer-performer Kenny Boyle. Cyberpunk clothing and a utility belt are instantly familiar from the comic Kick Ass as is our hero, a 21st century everyman working in a SUPERmarket. His main enemies are probably familiar to all of us and go by the names of anxiety, depression and uncertainty. Using imagination to escape the mundane is a central theme in hero Worship but it’s stressed, that the complexities of real life are what make us who we are and build our personalities.