Entering the theatre, an old fashioned lecture hall that holds a faint whiff of stale gas and is worryingly named the ‘dissection room’, I held really high hopes for this piece of theatre. I knew it contained feminism, political satire and quick-fire sketches – which all are, on paper, all things I enjoy. By the end of Women’s Hour, I felt I had gained food for thought on some aspects of feminism I had not considered before, and I'd also had a good few laughs at the dark comedy that Sh!t Theatre presented.
Sh!t Theatre company (comprising of Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit) create a high-energy performance space, welcoming the audience into the theatre whilst dancing to Eighties pop music and swigging back beer. What occurred in the next hour or so was a genuinely enjoyable experience of original sketches, singing, dancing and clowning related to the marginalisation of women in society, and, a few funny, thought-provoking responses to gender stereotyping in the media.
The most successful moments come when the talented pair use their wonderfully melancholic voices to drive home an important feminist message. For example, they sing in beautiful and harrowing harmony the aggressive and sexualised words that bigoted men have used about women on social media. The juxtaposition of their forlorn voices singing these horrendously misogynistic terms creates an uncomfortable feeling, because you are not sure whether to laugh or cry at the song.
The use of the projector behind the performers is another success. ‘Isn’t she lovely?’ is a phrase Mothersole and Biscuit proclaim about a range of women projected behind them throughout the show, and the repetition of this throughout the hour is one of the jokes that undoubtedly gets the most laughs.
But there were unfortunately also a few tired sketches, and some scenes which neither I, nor the rest of the audience seemed to get. In particular, a the sketches about beauty products reminded me of ones I had seen on The French And Saunders Show years ago; and because so much of the surrounding material is rather absurd and very original, those weaker moments were frustrating.
I should hasten to add that the show is very pacey, and therefore as soon as I started to question my own enjoyment of a sketch, it was time for another. So Women’s Hour is a largely enjoyable experience – which could be an outstanding show if Mothersole and Biscuit bravely cut some of their weaker material.