Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: I Got Dressed in Front of My Nephew Today, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Ben Walters.
At her terrific welcoming address to this year’s Fringe performers, Bryony Kimmings talked about how her work explores “public secrets” – things everyone knows but no one talks about. This production from new company Feral Foxy Ladies, aka director Claire Stone and performer Katherine Vince, does just that.
One day, Stone’s two-year-old nephew was around as she got dressed – “dressed” in the widest sense of making herself ready to enter the world as a conventionally good-looking woman.
The child’s naïve questions about her activity pried open the absurd and potentially damaging systems of thought and behaviour underlying the whole beauty ideal.
That might sound a bit po-faced, but I Got Dressed in Front of My Nephew Today is a right laugh. Vince is a cracking performer, her default mode of deadpan Vogue-face glamour backed up by frequent reference to Beyoncé and occasionally punctured by irritation or panic, or simply abandoned.
She’s also got good physical timing. And the show offers a diverse range of formal approaches, from video and audio to letters and lip-synch, as it unpacks the amount of time, money, physical and psychological suffering required “to become magnificent” – not to mention the delusion. When shopping, Vince reports, she can’t help but imagine herself in situations of “just generally needing diamonds”, however little relation that bears to her actual life.
Some of the connections between subjects could be stronger and a number of technical hiccups mean the show certainly isn’t flawless.
But that’s not a huge problem in a piece about the dangers of prioritising a perfect façade above all else.
Acknowledging imperfection is at the heart of the thing. Even when she’s looking great, Vince can feel trapped. She wants to assure kids growing up now that “just because you see me doing this, doesn’t mean you have to”.
ZOO (Venue 124) Until 30 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 20 August 2015
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