Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Hula House, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Sally Stott.
I’m sitting in a flat off Dalkeith Road, with a name badge saying “Sophia” stuck on my jacket, while a woman does a lap dance in front of me. Swapping my original “Sally” label with another audience member now feels like a feeble act of defiance in a show that constantly tests you by pushing you to do things you wouldn’t normally consider. For instance, paying for sex, visiting a brothel or assaulting a prostitute.
“Help yourself,” a woman (Jenny Kondol), simply described as “the ginger one”, says before we enter the tenement. In the living room another woman (Sarah Xanthe), “the blonde one”, lies topless on a table, covered in party rings, crisps and cheese and onion on sticks. Audience members enter and look horrified, before huddling together on the opposite side of the room around the sofa. Then the first woman announces: “Let’s play a game.”
What follows is a series of part-humorous, part-horrific combination “party games” in which we’re asked to carry out acts that fluctuate between feeling sexual, silly and highly disturbing. In-between, the women give an insight into real-life prostitutes’ experiences, question the current contradictory laws that don’t protect them against violent attacks, and send up their own decision, as privileged performers, to tell their stories.
A woman’s right to do what she wants with her body is a recurring theme, but most of the women described here are selling sex to pay the bills, buy household goods or just get by – something you rarely hear men talk about having to do. Created with the English Collective of Prostitutes (a self-help group for sex workers), it’s a piece that challenges the way women are dehumanised, not only by some men but also the authorities, and asks us to consider how much we participate in this.
Zoo Southside (Venue 82) until 23 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 18 August 2015
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