After shaving sore armpits for the third time that week, in my first year of university, I was blessed with a flashback of my former twelve year old self. I was shaving bare underarm skin. My cousin Abby told me girls shave their armpits, so I thought I'd get the ball rolling before the hair grew. Back at uni, I dropped the razor and continued on to an existential tirade to my boyfriend at the time; "Why do I shave my armpits? Why does the thought of growing my armpit hair scare me so much? Why does it maybe repulse me? Why does it seem unclean? Why have I always shaved them bare and never questioned it until now? Why does it seem ALL women shave their armpits? Why don't men shave their armpits?". Present day and I'm well on my way to feeling like a badass bitch with my underarm hair. Are There Female Gorillas? expertly explores the female body in an era of mainstream feminism, particularly focusing on female body hair and all these questions that surround it.
We are presented with two characters, Girl and Gorilla. Gorilla = body hair. The piece brilliantly borders on absurdist, as 'Girl' (Sophie Ablett) frantically searches for stray hairs with her magnifying glass and tweezers. Wild-eyed-banshee of a performer Ablett is one to watch out for. The energetic words seem to spill from deep within her gut with grounded yet visceral energy. The experimental piece is jam-packed with quirky ideas that layer the piece with depth, such as shaving a kiwi before eating it, providing thoughtful and fascinating visuals. Grace Strickland de Souza is playful and innocent in her portrayal of Gorilla, and provides a calm energy, although sometimes forces the emotion. Directed by Francesca Tennant, we are treated with gorilla facts throughout, and sadly learn that female gorillas are far less researched than males. But we also learn that female gorillas engage in homosexual intercourse for the fun of it, so it's not all bad news. The writing is slick and cleverly repeats particular phrases to hammer home the message. Are There Female Gorillas? sizzles with energy and is a relevant, punchy piece of theatre.
Written by @_FayeButler