With a 5 strong all-female cast Ugly is an inventive and original approach to the issue of self-image and how women can struggle to feel good enough in a beauty obsessed society. While this show is not afraid to be provocative, it often surprises with a humour that succeeds in both disarming and engaging. While it could be described as a mash-up of lots of different experiences and perspectives around the theme of ugliness, the whole piece feels cohesive, building up to a powerful, affirmative ending.
With a short 60 minute running time, no moment is wasted, as we hear the voices of many different women, wonderfully performed by the talented cast. It includes an eclectic mix of Greek chorus, dance, song, monologue and fairytale, to bring the stories to effervescent life in this blended and original piece of performance theatre. I was buzzing with energy by the time I left the theatre, as Danäe Cambrook’s direction ensures that Ugly is a fast-paced, roller-coaster ride of emotions.
Despite the speed of the piece, every message lands, as the multi-talented cast are given plenty of space to bring the different building blocks of the play to life. Shereener Browne, Eve Atkinson, Orla Sanders, Hannah Marie Davis and Samantha Bingley shine in their individual pieces, while working with great passion and respect as a collective company. This commitment both to the show, and each other, is an essential ingredient in convincingly landing the power of the overarching performance piece.
Perdita Stott’s writing is empathetic yet brutal in its honest exploration of self-loathing and body image. As a woman it was disconcerting how much I found myself relating to the different stories and sub-themes of the piece. From the cruelty of children, to the barrage of unhealthy beauty images in the media, Perdita Stott shines a light on the many varied negative voices women are exposed to, and just how much time we waste worrying about the way we look. Think how much more we could get done, if we embraced self-confidence and got on with our lives.
Ugly is running at the Tristan Bates until Saturday 2nd November 2019. It is in the 6.15pm spot, so would make for a lovely pre-dinner treat. Alternatively you could stay at the Tristan Bates for the unapologetically silly all-female ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ at 7.45pm