Milk and Mucus

In the murky, grey light of dusk, half-filled vintage milk bottles line a sidewalk path. Some of them are covered in clear tape, giving the could-be-cutesy objects a disheveled, broken, almost slimy look. Anticipation grows and a small crowd gathers. Photographers take their place behind a low barricade. It could all be very hip, but there is something sour in the air.

When the models finally arrive on the catwalk of Annie Tatton’s performance-art piece Milk and Mucus, they are covered in goo and struggling to strut as one spike on their extra-spiky heels has been amputated. These are professional models, though, and they bravely soldier on. Wincing and limping, these willowy, ethereal, and very-young girls, hobble along, each pass more painful than the last. It is impossible to watch Milk and Mucus without understanding its comment on the inherent cruelty of the fashion world, and the twisted perspective and methods of the beauty machine. It’s a heavy-handed message, but, as in all good performance-art, the value of the piece lies in actually seeing those shivering girls, covered in wheat paste and dragging a foot, walking with stony faces and glittering eyes.

Tatton herself plays a role, holding a slab of plexiglass and periodically stepping in front of a lumbering girl as she tries to continue on her path. The model must keep walking in place until the plexi moves away, and these are powerful moments which, for me, evoked many images from an x-ray (illness), to a peep-show’s protective window (pornography), to the obvious yet still enraging “glass ceiling” on advancement, respect, and influence for women.

The show runs about 15 minutes – as brief as fame and, for fashion models at least, youth – but is packed with striking images and ideas. If you’re seeing something in the area I recommend investigating yourself, especially if you are interested or involved in the fashion world. But if you’re on a budget, it might be too short to warrant a trip across town.

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.
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The Blurb

Site-specific show which pushes the fashion industry's catwalk show into performance. Milk bottles line the runway as mucus-covered models limp over uneven ground. Professional models and photographers. Gender, disability, spatial techtonics explored. Mainstream fashion subverted.

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