Waterloo East Theatre, London – until 18 March 2018
Straddled between the personal and the political, Things That Do Not C(o)unt examines the arbitrary and concrete criteria for womanhood. Directed by BJ McNeill and performed by Nastazja Somers, much of her Polish heritage permeates the show, as she evaluates what in her past has subliminally shaped who she is and what she has chosen for herself.
Traditional Polka music is played at intervals, particularly when Somers is interacting with grapefruit that’s kept in a clear perspex box nearby. Sometimes this lasts for an extended period as she slowly and methodically eats what’s healthy versus the small cakes nearby we suspect she would rather eat.
These fruits are used to vent her anger – pent-up frustration as a result of dieting since childhood. In the grand scheme of things, who is she doing this for? As someone apart from the world around her… as a ‘strange fruit’ (apologies to Billie Holiday) Somers has always enquired about what it is to be a woman, what she should expect in life and what she can change.
Pre-recorded filmed footage accompanies the show, but Things That Do Not C(o)unt really connects with the audience when Somers opens up about her own childhood and the disparaging remarks girls made when she was at school. The pressures that have been internally adopted by women regarding weight and decorum can be the most scathing and hurtful.
With so many rites of passage determined by firsts – first periods, first bra, first time having sex – do these all add up to being a woman? Or are these just external signifiers, the true measure of adulthood being the choices one makes that aren’t dictated by society?