Freak

Freak should be on the curriculum. It won't be, of course. This one-hour explosion of sex and agonising womanhood is rife with coarse language and sexual imagery so deftly conjured by writer Anna Jordan that the near-lyrical intertwining monologues become more explicit than anything we could conceivably be shown on stage.

A joy to watch when it is warm and fond and a spectacle you cannot turn away from when it reveals its unfeeling core, this is a play you should book while you still can.

What is achieved in Freak, however, is quite remarkable. This is a full-on, unabashed exploration of the sexual expectations placed upon and ultimately adopted by women in an age where it is possible to receive a high-definition sex education before you have even had your first kiss.

Actors Lia Burge and April Hughes are superb as Georgie and Leah, bringing just the right amount of fire and vulnerability to their roles. Georgie is floundering at 30 following the break-up of a relationship, turning to stripping for empowerment and to sex in lieu of emotion. Burge balances her defiance and desperation expertly. Leah, at 15, is Bambi on ice, unsure of how she should look and what she should feel. Stuck between being a woman and a girl, Hughes' Leah oscillates between hilarious revulsion at the very notion of losing her virginity and nervous excitement about finally growing up.

Simply, effectively staged and directed by Jordan herself, the performance whips along at a remarkable pace, stuttering only slightly as the two characters finally come together in the final scenes. The bed becomes a stage, a platform and refuge as the play progresses. The choreographed transitions between acts could be accused of undermining what some will call the play's feminist agenda but this is surely the very point. As the overhead lights flash red and blue, Georgie and Leah gyrate to booming music, becoming the stripper and the school girl. We in the audience briefly see the characters under a purposefully exploitative male gaze and it makes us rightly uncomfortable.

With Freak, Jordan and her cast walk the line between healthy experimentation and seedy exploitation before crossing over and discovering an unsettling truth. The stories are admittedly extreme but this play has something articulate to say about modern sex and the objectification of women, to which even women themselves sometimes end up becoming party.

A joy to watch when it is warm and fond and a spectacle you cannot turn away from when it reveals its unfeeling core, this is a play you should book while you still can.

Reviews by Jane Harrison

Assembly George Square Studios

Freak

★★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

'They think I am the most beautiful thing in the world. And I don’t mind being a thing. I don’t want their respect. I want only their animal desire'. Georgie is 30 with dirty secrets. She drinks in her bedroom and hides from the sun. Leah is 15 with teenage dreams. She practices her cum face and Veets. A lot. All-meat, all-sex, all-vulnerable, all-powerful. There's a first time for everything... Isn't there? A punchy and provocative new play by Bruntwood Prize winner Anna Jordan. ‘Incredibly vivid and really upsetting, but in a brilliant way’ (Marianne Elliot on award-winning YEN).