Delving into the short life of 20th century photographer Francesca Woodman,
Will have you pondering answers to questions you haven’t quite formed in your head.
“The show may contain nudity,” says a member of Front of House collecting ticket stubs. Well, yes – that’s something of an understatement. The nudity however is used with a clear purpose in mind and not simply for shock value, with nudity being a crucial element of Francesca Woodman’s photography work. After a while, it even becomes fairly normal. The relationship between Francesca and her friend Sloan is portrayed excellently by Chelsea DuVal and Skylar Hamblen. The play’s strength is its portrayal of character and this unusual friendship highlights the merits of respecting different interpretations of the world around you, as well as art and intention.
The storyline is where things get a little too vague. It is presented in a series of ‘snapshots’, appropriate for the life of a photographer. The programme explains from the beginning that Francesca committed suicide at the age of 22, but bar a few subtle lines of dialogue, you may not have entirely guessed that if you’d happened to not read the programme. The nature of the play also makes it a little difficult to understand as all the scenes feel slightly unconnected from each other. A little more exposition may be necessary to fully sell the story to an audience.
The visual presentation of the play is wonderful however. The use of projection on two sheets – a thin cloth sheet and a more opaque paper background – creates a beautiful effect, although the projection at times is a little difficult to see as the angle seems a bit off-centre. The use of a live camera during a recreation of one of Francesca’s photography shoots is also innovative and well worth applauding.
With a tightening of the story and its presentation, Francesca, Francesca… could be a great show. For now, it’s still a curious oddity that’s worth your time and will have you pondering answers to questions you haven’t quite formed in your head.