Indulging in pleasures such as chocolates and shopping sprees, the Goddess Aphrodite comes to the stage in a celebration of natural beauty and self-worth. Sam Donvito and Ellen Graham present Aphrodite and the Invisible Consumer Gods, where the impossible standards of modern society eat away at even Aphrodite’s confidence.
We follow the Goddess of Love in her exploration of present day, as she seeks more followers to worship her divine elegance. In doing so she comes across the Goddess 2018 Award – a beauty competition where the winner gets a substantial number of followers added to their social media count. Through interviews and trials, we see Aphrodite’s views on social expectations, but the question lies in how much judgement she can endure before she abandons her natural beauty.
Pushing us in at the deep-end, the two actors serve as direct opposites. Where Aphrodite is completely secure and loving of herself, Paige, the host of the award, reminds her of her flaws and considers her as immodest for the way she acts. The sexualisation of a burger advert for example, or a reference to “orgasmic chocolates”, illustrate the consumerism of today’s society and reinforce the ideology that “sex sells”. Despite the dramatic representation of it, this idea that women (and men) must look and act a certain way is demeaning to self-esteem – the central issue that this show raises.
Much of the comedy, if not all of it, relies on audience participation; this can be explicit and grew slightly awkward at times, but never fazed the actors as they strived for a fun experience. I do feel the show may work better for groups than for solo Fringe-goers, as a lot of the laughs seemed to come from those enjoying poking fun at their friends. On the other hand, the interaction makes the show personal, which is important for the self-loving dynamic they’re preaching to us.
By exposing themselves to their audience, Donvito and Graham are inviting us to see that we should never be embarrassed about our bodies – nor see anyone negatively for loving themselves. And in keeping with that message, this is a show without shame, where the performers are not afraid to give it everything they’ve got. In the end, Aphrodite and the Invisible Consumer Gods is a tutorial on body confidence, which successfully highlights the absurdity of being uncomfortable in your own skin – even if the world seems to tell you otherwise.