Deserving?

It feels important to say before we discuss a show about such a sensitive issue that its engagement with the topic of women being raped is sensitively handled and that the dancer is honest in her exploration. However, the work that has been created, whilst noble in what it tries to say, is not necessarily a well constructed piece of theatre.

‘Deserving?’ focuses on the question of women’s responsibility and role in the act of rape; the theme present throughout the whole piece is how much can the female party be blamed for the acts of a man who rapes her? This question is so prevalent and, in many ways, easy to answer, that the through-line of the show- a woman who seduces a man and is then sexually assaulted- is a foregone conclusion, which is untouched and left to reside in a field of silence and injustice. The show ends with the expected answer - that a woman is always a victim in cases of sexual assault. The piece might as well say that the Sun rises in the East.

The performance here is more about stamina and less about technique. But while other performers may risk pain in dangerous circumstances and dance in a way that suggests the hurt and damage of the body, the performer at the core of ‘Deserving?’ uses the idea of cruelty merely as a marathon of body slams on the floor. The dance is identifiable in its references to real movement, but even when it becomes an expression of pain it lacks any heightened sense of horror. In a moment so difficult to show on stage- especially in a one woman show- the lack of abstraction seems peculiar.

Although the emotion and intent is there, the piece lacks something of the necessary punch; too long a time is spent on every area (for example, the opening use of pop music) and as a result the emotion is diluted. However, if you ever doubted that a woman in this position was a victim, watch the way this piece concludes - it will convince you soon enough that this is a worthy war to fight.

Reviews by David Levesley

Tissue

★★

Riot Squat

★★★★

Assassins

★★★★★

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.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

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 £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

The Blurb

Inspired by Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty and media coverage of rape. In an Amnesty International survey, one in four claimed a woman is partly to blame for being raped if she dresses provocatively, drinks too much or is flirtatious.

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