Pussyfooting is a project that has been evolving over the course of a year, and, presumably, could continue to go on evolving with its bright new company from Oxford University: Knotworks. The project knits together individual testimonies, sketches, off-the-cuff discussions, audience interaction, and some strong devil-may-care dance moves into a hilarious and moving forty minutes of gender exploration.

Mixing sketches with personal testimonies is a bold move and difficult to pull off

The show is most successful in its spoofs of gender and heteronormativity. A number of their sketches, are very well-written pieces of satire. Interspersing these sketches are personal testimonies from the actors themselves. We’re given small insights into each performer’s experience of gender; these moments of honesty are at times very moving.

The cast of five female, queer and trans actors work well as a tightly knit and extremely supportive ensemble. The bond between the cast is clear from the outset and carries a wonderful feeling of solidarity throughout the show.

Pussyfooting is by no means a polished piece of theatre; there’s a sense of watching a work in progress (which may never be complete) evolve before your eyes. There are moments, notably in an off-the-cuff game of Truth, the actors appear to drop all semblance of character to bring their own words and experiences to the stage. This highly naturalistic style is really engaging though occasionally characters are not made distinct enough.

Mixing sketches with personal testimonies is a bold move and difficult to pull off. The distinctions between different types of scenes could have been made sharper and characters could have been bolder. The five actors bring so much of themselves to the stage in really powerful ways and often it works beautifully. As a piece of theatre, however, it could do with some refining.

Pussyfooting is rough around the edges but in its roughness finds a new and powerful way to use theatre. It’s not a play, but it does educate, empower and entertain.

Reviews by Ellie Coote

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The Blurb

Built from interviews and workshops with women and trans folk from across the country, we bring you a collaged exploration of how it is to live in a gendered body. What is womanhood, and what happens when you don’t fit? We are the Oxford University Drama Society’s 2016 national tour. Shortlisted for the Charlie Hartill Special Reserve at the Pleasance and described by the board as ‘a company with a huge amount of promise’, Knotworks brings you a reworking of their sell-out show, the culmination of a year-long project.