“I’m laughing on the outside but screaming on the inside”
The first session of the Women Centre Stage: Power Play Festival, tucked away in a rehearsal room under the stage, was entitled A Question of Identity, featuring three contrasting works of equal but different power. I saw Rose Lewenstein's Fucking Feminists as part of the Acts of Defiance festival at Theatre503 a couple of months ago, but its rapid wordplay and competing voices which parse and pull apart notions of contemporary feminism easily allow for repeated viewing as you consider whether a chair can be feminist or if white feminists are only interested in getting themselves above the glass ceiling.
As directed by Lisa Cagnacci, the foursome of Ania Sowinski, Jody Jameson, Karlina Grace-Paseda, and Anna Elijasz are clearly revelling in the familiarity with their material and pushing both its thoughtfulness and cheekiness. By comparison, Stephanie Ridings' The Road To Huntsville is much more restrained, a one-woman show tracking a writer's research journey into the world of women who correspond and enter in romantic relationships with convicts. Though perhaps less overtly theatrical, its message is no less chilling (I'm still reeling from the Danielle Steel titbit) and Ridings expertly manoeuvres our sympathies through her discoveries.
Last up was Sabrina Mahfouz's two-hander Battleface, directed by Joe Murphy. My first thought on watching this was that it was like an intense scene out of a series finale of Spooks and given that I loved that show (oh Ruth!) I'm sticking by that analysis. Probing into what we ask of those who serve Queen and country and more importantly, in these times of increasingly diverse populations, who we ask, Mahfouz lays the seeds for what emerges as a nifty little psychological thriller that I'd happily see a full-length version of!