Artwork by @aliomalley
Entering the theatre at the Bread and Roses I’m transported back to my childhood, as the whole space is cocooned in duvet covers, sheets and pillow cases. Tamsin Robinson’s set reminds me of when I used to turn my duvet into a fort as a static-haired child, and I can’t help feeling I’ve entered a safe space.
Before I can get to ‘All of us want something to get over’ I’d be remiss if I didn’t speak about the opening acts (which I believe can vary each night). Our MC and comedian for the night is Karen Hobbs, who succeeds in finding comedy in her cervical cancer experience. Minor digression but since my own cancer diagnosis (currently 13 months cancer free, hurrah) I’ve found it interesting how hard it can be to get people to laugh about cancer, which is frankly a buzz kill when you’re the one who’s got it. Getting back on topic, Hobbs is engaging and funny with a set that is full of hilarious sexual anecdotes, while not being afraid to be serious, and some might even argue educational, in places.
I also got to see a monologue called “My first time” written by Phoebe Wood and performed beautifully by Ella Hooper. It is an intelligently written, inventive and very human short piece, about a girl losing her virginity at 15. Well, actually it is about a lot more than that, but it’s hard to say more without spoilers. What is particularly powerful in Wood’s writing, is how the echoes of that first time, impact our heroine’s future sexual behaviour. This is a delicately balanced short piece that I both enjoyed and admired.
In this action packed line-up singer/songwriter Georgina Daniels shared two of her songs with us. While I suspect her song ‘Dirty Knickers’ might struggle to get the airplay that it deserves, I love that she wrote a song normalising vaginal discharge. Why is it that so much about the reality of being female is never talked about, because it might make men uncomfortable? Our bodies are amazing if embarrassing at times, and this song is a lovely tribute to the awkwardness of being born with a vagina. That Georgina Daniels has a beautiful voice, doesn’t hurt either.
So now, finally I get to talk about ‘All of Us Want Something To Get Over’, a sparkling dark comedy written by Vogue Giambri, that follow the sexual and relationship misadventures of an oddly matched pair. Memphis (Alex Wingfield) is socially awkward and seems to be scared of life in general. Gert (Abbi Douetil) is energetic, knows what she wants (mainly sex) and has had a difficult childhood. What starts as an unrewarding one-night stand morphs into an accidental relationship, much to Gert’s confusion. The magic of the piece lies in the relationship between this unlikely duo, both brought to life with great talent, empathy and dexterity by Wingfield and Douetil. Director Amy Reade further accentuates the conflict between these two characters, by making really smart dramatic choices: the ‘sex scenes’ are impeccably choreographed, and hilariously evocative, while the use of a tomato by Gert in another scene, gives us a wonderful insight into how she likes to provoke Memphis. Throughout the play these two characters orbit and clash with each other. This is an emotionally and physically messy love story. But how can two such different people connect, when they come from such different backgrounds? Their traumas are different, and while Gert argues that having the saddest childhood “isn’t a competition”, it is precisely in that moment that you realise for her it really is.
Ultimately I think the key question sitting at the heart of ‘All of Us Want Something To Get Over’ is whether it is possible to have a healthy, loving relationship, while clinging to the trauma you believe defines you. Giambri’s writing is rich with humour, and human truths. I thoroughly enjoyed my evening in the comforting giant duvet/sheet fort they have created.
‘All of Us Want Something to Get Over’ is running at the Bread and Roses until Saturday 29th February. Despite the mega line-up the running time, including all the opening acts, is a friendly 90 minutes. There is something so refreshing and empowering in seeing such strong female-led pieces that really embrace the physical reality of women’s bodies, I highly recommend checking it out.