Brighton Fringe (Online)
At one point in SHE(ME): Reclaiming Shame, one of the performers describes shame as something that “grew like ivy up on an old castle wall.” An apt simile for something that has such deep roots and far-reaching effects on our society. As the vines wind their way across the wall, it becomes more and more difficult to remove them, or even to see their starting point – so too does shame wind its way across our lives and confuse our understanding of where it begins and how to rid ourselves of it.
As the first of the show’s vignettes wittily demonstrates, this proliferation of shame is a problem that particularly affects women. In a hysterical parody of online beauty tutorials, Georgia Rona takes the audience through her ‘effortless’ beauty regimen, highlighting the beauty industry’s reliance on the continued shaming of women for how they look naturally.
Created through 10 hours of online rehearsal between the 6 cast members and director Shea Donovan, the sketches and vignettes that follow are a mixture of comic and harrowing, revealing the many ways in which shame permeates through life. Some land more successfully than others – a strong ensemble dance with tape measures and a satirical period product advert stand out – while some feel underdeveloped. Some images are repeated (such as a sanitary towel worn across the eyes), confusing their meaning within the work, and there are movement sections where the pacing feels drawn out and worn thin. Matching this unevenness, the sound quality of the recording varies considerably, which left me with one hand on the remote control throughout, ready to adjust the volume as each new vignette began.
However, considering the short rehearsal period, and the challenges of distance the creators worked with, the piece overall is an engaging and successful work. SHE(ME):Reclaiming Shame is a show that tackles a lot in its short 45minute run time, and does so with passion, verve and confidence.
SHE(ME): Reclaiming Shame is available to watch as part of Brighton Fringe Festival until 27th June 2021.