'I’m frightened', my proudly-feminist husband says while reading a Google-searched summary of Just Don’t Do It as we sit waiting for the start of the show. 'What of?' I query. 'Vaginas', comes the reply. Feminism, it seems, has some way to go. This Beside Ourselves production seeks to address just that – feminism, where we are with it and where we want to be, all done through the exploration of women’s sexual behaviour and Christianity.
It’s a bit bonkers at times, but undoubtedly entertaining
Descending into Sweet Werk’s basement we are greeted by two gyrating, energetic females who, as we take our seats, self-introduce as Trish and Tash. It becomes apparent, then, that we are no longer a Fringe audience, but a teenage, girls-only audience at a Christian summer camp set in 1999. Apparently, we are on day three of the camp and it’s time for that awkward discussion about the “Ssss” word and personal memories of embarrassing Year 6 Biology lessons come flooding back. But Kate Mounce and Eleanor Young of Beside Ourselves do not want us to be uncomfortable about, or afraid of, our bodies or any societal, pre-conditioned, sexual hang-ups we may have. To cure us of this they choose the Immersion Therapy route. The audience shout out 'Sex!' when queried about the 'Ssss' word to be wittily informed that 'Ssss' actually stands for 'celibacy'. This face off psychology continues as we are confronted by vaginas – the hand-puppet variety – and I can safely say watching The Muppet Show will now never be quite the same again.
Just Don’t Do It is a show that should be applauded as it tackles some important issues: we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about our bodies and what we do with them butwe should be free to express our choices, be that sexual or spiritual, without fear of judgment or reproach, the message being we need to respect each other’s beliefs. Mounce and Young love to clown around and are animated, creative, and versatile, switching the mood up and down simultaneously. There’s a lot they pack into this vibrant, one-hour show (perhaps a little too much) and, at times, it’s hard to see the themes clearly, due to the verbal and visual excesses on stage. Props, characters and stories within stories abound: vaginas, a cross, road signs, a hula-hoop, a burlesque, vagina-puppet cabaret, a straight-laced, curly-wigged puritan named Sue, a mythological story of two sisters etc etc etc. Whoa! This makes for a bustling, chaotic set, all washed down with a generally fast-paced, erratic narrative.
Yet, yet... the message is true, sincere and worthy and these two performers are innovative, hard-working and charming, delivering moments of on-point comic timing interspersed with some sweet, poignant musicality. It’s a bit bonkers at times, but undoubtedly entertaining and we left duly educated and quizzically amused.