Dressed is an intensely personal and moving account of Lydia Higginson's journey through the trauma of being stripped and assaulted at gun point. It centres around the idea of using clothes-making as a way of processing violation. The show uses dance, music, sewing and costume both to convey the effects of the attack and as a means of coping with those effects.
It tells an important story in a unique way
Higginson stars in her own show alongside her friends and co-creators Josie Dale-Jones, Nobahar Mahdavi and Olivia Norris. This intimate connection with the truth behind the narrative makes the performance feel far more emotionally intense and authentic. The bond between the actors is so strong and does justice to the difficult nature of the topic. Each actor brings their unique skills and personality to their roles, from haunting vocals to satirical stand-up to intense contemporary dance.
These elements are variable in their level of obscurity. Some of the narrative is clearly explained, whilst other moments are left for the audience to interpret themselves. At times this made the performance feel confusing and disjointed. At first I was frustrated by this, but after some thought I realised it reflected the frustration of trauma and victimhood itself. Every audience member can devise their own interpretation but there cannot be easy or discernible answers to any of the questions the topic raises. It may be alienating at times but it is also incredibly powerful.
Sometimes the pacing felt a little slow. It is important for such difficult themes as these to be pondered over carefully, but the high number of pauses did drag at times. It's not a show that might immediately attract all kinds of audiences but it does not need to. It tells an important story in a unique way, skilfully avoiding the clichés that build up around trauma narratives, especially female ones. It's intense, hard hitting and worth seeing if you can handle it.