Like commuters packing onto a rush hour tube, I and about 50 others made my way into 1 Wardlaw Gardens, with a sizable living room that hosted People You Know Production's A Girl Gets Naked In This: A Series of Monologues About Sex. Perched on a table in the back, I looked on as these stories, divine in their own right, of abuse, sexuality, and relationships, amalgamated to form an overarching piece that posed the persistent question of what it means to be a woman in today’s society.
Devised by Catherine Barrie and Nicole Sellew, and mostly directed by the all female cast, the series of 14 monologues offered an authentic platform for women’s issues, performed, written, and directed by women.
The innovative performance space was the show’s greatest merit as while the audience sat in the living room, like an alcove, an archway connected an adjacent room with a bed which each performer delivered their monologue upon. The room became a window. The bed became a pulpit encompassing safety, pain and fun. And importantly, the lamp that stood near the bed, which each performer switched on at the beginning of their monologue, signalled the monologues as organic outlets of expression.
Together the monologues shone like a box of chocolates, complementing one another, whilst relishing in their idiosyncrasies. Ranging from the hilarity in the opening ‘Nothing in the world is harder than explaining to your friends that you got back with your ex-boyfriend who’s obsessed with anal’ to the harrowing in ‘Glasgow’, each one gave a different perspective on the female experience.
A standout from the evening was ‘Scarlett Llojansen’ which written and performed by Scarlett Tew and directed by Tillie Affley, depicted the age-old pain of trying to flirt and in this instance, flirt in Spanish with a self-assured macho with a tattoo. Tew with an ease, swung back and forth from English to Spanish, resulting in unanimous laughter from the audience. Comedic timing clearly comes easily to Tew, which she threaded throughout her piece.
Sellew’s ‘Naked’, the final monologue performed by Amelia Stokeld, cut down the laughter and gave an intricate commentary on bodily autonomy. Sellew’s writing and its engagement with a strikingly relevant topic, especially to women, was aided by her excellent direction. Sellew’s use of physicality in Stokeld in the initial instance of becoming tangled in her t-shirt offered a simplistic yet effective approach. This was pushed further when the character undressed to her underwear, relinquishing male validation and reclaiming her body. An unfiltered, raw moment in which you could’ve heard a pin drop.
Innovation lay at the heart of A Girl Gets Naked In This and aside from my rather sore backside after the piece, I only wish more productions would utilise unconventional spaces.
Clever. Fresh. Brilliant.
Photo by Emma Dalton.