Body Shop

Body Shop is a multiplayer, multi-layered human body action game, a future-forward competition where women are assembled according to the stories of their bodies. The stories focus on five main body sections: the hair, eyes, breasts, womb and vagina. The writing is phenomenal. Exploring the complex nature of womanhood, we hear intimate stories of having a child, breast cancer and trans identity.

These performers are blessed with eloquence, grace, humour and the ability to connect with us.

These five women share stories ranging from objectification to sexual experience and expression, fetish, bias and taboo. They speak from the perspectives of a young person; a first generation millennial; kinky; trans; femme and mothers. They speak as human beings, human beings who’ve experienced a world of damaging media and social stigma as well as love and acceptance, with partners, friends or family.

The stories are extremely personal but they do not feel voyeuristic. The audience is invited in, it is a space for sharing. Some of the actors appear shy, even uncomfortable – but this honest depiction of how they feel is also endearing. We trust that they are them and they do not put on airs. The staging is simple and effective. The performers individually stand, sit and stand again, creating a gentle repetition of motion like the ebb and flow of a tide.

The show is framed by the concept of gaming, a competition to assemble a whole woman by assembling her pieces. Unfortunately, the skeleton doesn’t support the organs. The narrator is reasonably effective as a white skinned, blue eyed, blond haired, female overlord, detailing the rules of the game and documenting progress. However, the cheesy pinwheel array of lights and gamer music is out of place. The tech does not provide a fitting contrast with the play because it is not woven into the narratives of the womens' stories. The movement of the women turning on to play the game is confusing at the beginning, especially because the movement motif is never repeated to suggest other gaming features. The outfits also do not support a gaming aesthetic – the gentle clash of tan under cloth and red and orange items look thrown together, and lacks impact. As the “players” wait, they stand behind the monologuing actor. They adopt a neutral position that looks awkward. Their eyes wander around the space. This doesn’t support the framework or content of the show.

While more thought should be given to the framework of the piece, the content is gritty and grounded. These performers are blessed with eloquence, grace, humour and the ability to connect with us. Many would say it’s brave to share such stories but their demeanour does not display fear. They are not afraid to share, many seem eager, hungry for the catharsis and acceptance of honesty. Their openness, candour and self-love is a gift beyond words. As you leave, perhaps whisper “thank you” – thank you for being complex people who have shared your stories and shared yourselves. Thank you.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Emma Brenner

Hill Street Theatre

Haggis, Neeps and Burns

★★★
Greenside @ Infirmary Street / Greenside @ Nicolson Square

Body Shop

★★★★
theSpace on the Mile

Plucked

★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

The body is a unique object in human experience; both object and objectified, yet the body is also subject. A skeleton of monologues fleshed out with spoken word and physical theatre, Body Shop travels head to toe exploring varied aspects of British womanhood, starting with the environmental universe of the body. The game is simple: players must select body parts to build a woman in the shortest time. But when play is both off-kilter and online, can a feminine figure figure a femme? Does womanhood transcend the physical self? BRB, we’ll get back 2 u on that.

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