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One and One - Female Parts

New Greenham Arts, 21st June 2002

This is from the NWN.

Deconstructing the myth

'FEMALE PARTS', performed by One and One, at New Greenham Arts, on Friday, June 21

Unless you had absolutely no awareness of the issues surrounding the position of women in society, there wouldn't seem anything particularly new in this evening of theatre. After all, we all know, don't we, that women have a rough deal? We are fed the fairytale of romantic happy-ever-after, but somehow it doesn't quite work out as we expected.

In this triple-bill we had anger, resentment, frustration and tragedy. Nothing new there then. Except that Franca Rame and Dario Fo's series of monologues do give the opportunity for thoughtful reflection, tempered at times with laughter and at times with tears. Gail Kemp was quite brilliant in all three pieces.

This was a remarkable performance, not least because it was so intense and demanding for the actress. Although she was on stage for about an hour-and-a-half, the pace and sheer physicality never faltered. She was funny, moving and powerful in turn, displaying passion and compassion, and maintained a mesmerising contact with the audience as she created the main characters and the peripheral ones, especially in the stream of consciousness of 'Same Old Story'. This piece deconstructs a lot of the fairytale, with the woman who wants to believe her man loves her for her intelligence when he really just wants her body, who argues about the relative merits of private and NHS abortions, and who then tells her own growing daughter the most brilliant story about a rag doll, a computer salesman and a dwarf with very potent wee-wee (you really had to be there!).

'Rise and Shine' shows the grim life of the multi-tasking wife, mother and employee, who longs for fulfilment from a relationship which is reduced to bare essentials. And 'Medea' takes us back to the main issue, that women have always been exploited, and abused, by men who make the rules. Medea finally takes control, but her reasoning and her solution are heart-breaking.

Pete Watt's imaginative design and visionary direction and Ms Kemp's huge talent made this a superb, unforgettable evening.