Gutted is a one-woman, solo show about IBD. It was honest, articulate, candid and had a fantastic sense of humour. The performer, Liz Richardson, was relaying her experiences with the condition and, through the production, opening a dialogue about a condition considered extremely embarrassing and ‘unsexy’ – especially for women. Recollections were enabled through use of a screen along the stage’s back wall, on which was projected the names of the various characters she played throughout – a feature made poignant use of when discussing the public humiliation she has endured as a consequence of her illness. It was an effective method by which Liz brought characters other than herself into her own story; when testimonies from her mother and husband were read out, clips of a woman baking or a man playing darts would play, a visual cue for the audience that it was these people’s voices at that particular time.

Deftly but matter-of-factly outlined the issues surrounding IBD in an informative way, and I left knowing more about it than when I arrived.

Not that the cue was even needed, necessarily, such was the skill with which Liz performed. She confidently and humorously brought audience members up to read out her mother and husband’s words, distancing her personal recollections because, as she admitted at the end, they were too difficult for her to enact. This distancing also anonymised the experience: it could happen to any of us, and we would do well to remember that. This technique of voicing the absent was similarly used to comic effect when Liz vocalised her ‘stoma’, aka the bit of intestine left sticking out of her body post-op, and its workings with the ileostomy bag she needed to collect her body’s waste. She thus deftly but matter-of-factly outlined the issues surrounding IBD in an informative way, and I left knowing more about it than when I arrived.

It was this lightness and openness that worked so well with the performance’s interactive and inspired methods of staging such a dirty – no pun intended – topic. Using permanent markers to draw on her stomach, and baby wipes to wipe away their illustrations, Liz informed the audience of exactly what was cut away from her insides, and what they now looked like. Recorded voiceovers and video projection were masterfully utilised, as was a squeezy bottle of ketchup and brown sauce … but you’ll have to go see it to discover quite how.

Reviews by Alice Carlill

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The Blurb

Liz has got an embarrassing problem and these yogurts aren't helping; her body's acting up. After sell-out performances at HOME Manchester and a national tour of hospitals, Liz Richardson shares her real life experiences living as a twenty-something with ulcerative colitis (an inflammatory bowel disease) in this shameless tale of love, laughter and lavatories. Co-created by Tara Robinson and described by audience members as tight, witty and compelling, Gutted is a frank and funny exploration of our relationship to our bodies when they fail us.