Ovalhouse, London – until 25 May 2019
What is it? One woman explores the garden of her nether regions all while highlighting the stigma surrounding sexuality of women and young girls.
What’s it all about? Bella Heesom is a young girl who is playing that game. Sara Alexander, who portrays Heesom’s sexual appetite throughout, encourage this particular game that the pair like to play together. “The one where we pretend to have sex!” Alexander exclaims. And as they masturbate on pillows and towels, almost unaware of what they are doing, the two girls writhe with pleasure as they orgasm.
But once the act is over Heesom is nervous. “What did we just do? Was it bad? Why are our pants damp?” She stammers; Alexander puts her fears to rest, proclaiming “how can something that feels so wonderful be bad?” And this statement, sets up the tone for the whole show.
Moving through the different stages of sexual development in Heesom’s life, we learn all the unspoken rules and stipulations placed on girls and the way in which these same rules don’t apply to boys. Vaginas are gross the boys say, but a blow job is completely acceptable.
Enter Heesom’s Brain and Clitoris. Heesom plays her Brain, often getting in the way of the sexual encounters that Clitoris (Alexander) wants to enjoy. Brain educates Clitoris on all the facts of sex. Girls can’t have sex (or at least can’t be “ gagging for it”) because then they will be seen as sluts. But at a certain point it is very important that all girls have sex other wise they will be frigid. But the sexual pleasure that comes from these encounters are only for the man, anything the woman feels is just a bonus.
As the pair continues to argue and struggle under these pressures, Heesom’s sexual appetite breaks down, and teaches her an important lesson in appreciating the strength within herself and taking back the power that her Vulva has had all along.
How did it make me feel? What an important and daring play this is. Written by Heesom herself, the clarity of her intentions are made from the beginning. Girls don’t masturbate. Vaginas are smelly and gross. Self pleasure is dirty. You should feel shame for enjoying sex. Heesom explores all of this through movement and language that is evocative and challenging. There is a point in this show that really ramps up, and any woman watching will feel the power and raw energy pouring from the women onstage into their souls. Another brilliant moment is the introduction of the Clitoris to the audience. Alexander plays this body part as inquisitive and innocent, and her openness to ask such blatant questions makes her even more likeable. The show is funny too, but never at the expensive of the subject matter which is rare and a credit to Heesom’s writing. The chemistry between the two actors bubbles throughout and the relationship between them makes the piece even more watchable. The scary thing about the show is that it is literally a school sexual edcucation lesson relayed by the student. The things that this character says are lifted directly from what she is taught at school. Again, Heesom’s writing shines through. Where Is It Playing? I now need to take a moment to talk about how lovely the space at Ovalhouse is. And THAT SET. Absolutely stunning and serving to the story. Beautiful to look at, inventive and clever. Elizabeth Harper the Set, Costume, Projection and Scenic Art Designer has outdone herself. Anything Else? This show is a fresh and exciting take on a subject that is being talked about a lot in the arts now. Which, of course, is a brilliant thing. The piece reclaims the power of the female body and tells all the rules to fuck off. Amy x Rejoicing At Her Wondrous Vulva The Young Woman Applauded Herself is playing at Ovalhouse until the 25th May 2019. If you like my reviews and want to support this blog feel free to buy me a virtual coffee here!