Unfairlady: The raunchy underside of those glossy stories

unfairladyUnfairlady is a sassy satire for the magazine obsessed. And those who have to live with them.

Its blurb in the programme calls it “sometimes scathing”.

I disagree. A skit-based black comedy. it is scathing to the core; ironic, sardonic, sex-crazed and sarcastic. It reveals all things sad, grotesque and disturbing, the dark stuff which festers beneath the gloss of women’s magazines.

This subversive, uncompromising romp is not for the faint of heart; it serves up taboo and tabloids for an audience of teens and the elderly, who either squealed with glee or sat motionless, violated.

The script is manic, yet, the staging is not dark at all.

Actresses Rachael Neary and Hayleigh Evans bopped their way from episode to episode, bouncinig off a base of stereotypical articles in a women’s mag or in social media.

Their performances were charming. Some skits went down better than others, but they performed with energy and confidence and continued without a fuss when gags were met with either confusion or disdain.

Gwydion Beynon proves again to be as clever as he is funny. The script is dangerously sharp to the point of gaping mouths and bulging eyes. I’m surprised no-one dropped their dentures when a woman’s #WorstDateEver was someone having accidental sex with their father. I don’t know if Beynon is an agent provocateur targeting women’s magazines (or women who read them) but his writing is surprisingly insightful since this is play about women written by a man.

The short fall for me was the staging. We watched the actresses jump around like teenagers at Plett Rage (a transition between each episode) and shake their asses between a sheet (the silhouettes of their bodies displayed to the audience in shadow) whilst simultaneously trying to change their costumes. At first I thought the curves and edges of the actresses naked(ish) bodies paraded in front of the audience to be a clever form of empowerment for the actresses whose bodies are theirs and theirs alone, though the audience may peep. Or a perhaps it was a comment on the one-dimensional nature of how magazines and pop culture chooses to depict the female figure, lifelike and plastic like a Woolworth’s mannequin. But as the play continued I got the feeling the shadow work was just a playful way for the performers to change their costumes. And man, watching people change clothes on stage is boring enough, but making your actresses do it while jumping up and down to pop music seemed damn near cruel, nevermind a surefire way to make us start wondering what to have for lunch.

All in all, a lively, funny play. And risky, which I like. The staging annoyed me, but I think the script and the actresses made it a success. The final scene had an elderly woman in the audience clapping in glee, childlike, utterly enjoying herself. Here was a well-needed piece of fun that lifted my spirits after many a dark and sad play, and offered a flame of warmth on an early festival morning.

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