Suze Kundu saw Plunge Theatre’s Private View at London’s Theatre Delicatessen.
Izabella Malewska, Tutku Barbaros and Lilly Pollard on stage in Private View.
Being a girl is a strange thing. Like a rom-com Richard Curtis would be proud of, their lives are filled with joyful highs and epic heartbreaks. The metamorphosis from girl to woman is no easy transition either. I imagine caterpillars have a smoother ride to becoming butterflies, snuggled up in their chrysalises, taking time to deal with the drastic changes their bodies are undergoing. Much of this goes unnoticed and often fears and worries are never vocalised, leading many of us to wonder whether we are stumbling along on this strange adventure in wonderland all on our own.
Plunge Theatre’s Private View was sold to me with the three things guaranteed to get me interested in anything; comedy, cake and dancing. In fact, they were structural pillars on which to support the show, a refreshingly honest take on how it feels to negotiate this particularly tricky, yet inevitable, path of growing up. It dealt with the biological (suddenly having your social activities held at ransom by a Lunar cycle and the required associated ‘landscape gardening’, shall we say), the social (‘Yuck! She’s so skinny), the mating rituals, or ‘clubbing’ as I understand it is commonly called and the prep work we go through to look like we just rolled out of bed looking fierce and fabulous.
Private View presents a true-to-life and balanced smorgasbord of compliments, insults and expectations thrown at women these days. It also acknowledges many of the issues of growing up (using cake and dancing), serving a realistic slice of the many thoughts the female of the species has to juggle when growing up, as well as the comments we have to deflect if we don’t want to end up resembling the half-eaten, overly-frosted cupcake at the end of a party; misshapen, mashed up and a little structurally unsound.
One of the saddest parts of the show for me was when, after much prepping and preening, our trio (played by Izabella Malewska, Tutku Barbaros and Lilly Pollard) head out to a club, where they vie for the affections of men. When one girl is deemed to be the ‘hottest’, the other two strive to achieve her level of ‘perfection’ by any means necessary, be that bizarre cosmetic surgery or even more bizarre cling film wraps. As Cling Film Girl takes over as Lead Hottie, the original girl turns to yet more cling film in a desperate bid to regain her crown. This culminates in frustrated tirades from all three women, demanding that audience members agree that if they lost two stone, or got rid of a wobbly bit of their thigh, or had a flat tummy, they be would pretty.
Each woman was already beautiful, inside and out, yet I know from friends and, I suppose, from my own feelings about my body image, that it really is difficult to believe that when all you are bombarded with are unrealistic images of Photoshopped models and celebrities looking bikini-ready, even when we know their look is achieved through malnourishment, bright green smoothies and torture from a highly-paid personal trainer.
I think it is fair to say that my friend Mick, who accompanied me to the show, was shocked at his glimpse into the world of the girl. All I could say was ‘it’s funny because it’s true’. Another two friends are off to see it tonight and I look forward to hearing what they thought. Surely they don’t share all of those thoughts and worries too. Or do they? From the laughter in the audience, it was clear many people related.
Yes, there is cake. Yes, there is dancing. Yes, there is laughter. Above all though, there is an honest, brutal, well-crafted representation of the challenges modern women face, all wrapped up in an hour-long parcel of theatre, that will leave you feeling like part of the biggest, most brilliant team ever. I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.
* Private View, written and performed by Plunge Theatre, is on until January 31.
More details from http://www.theatredelicatessen.com
Suze is a nanochemist, both literally and professionally, and a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Materials. Suze is also a science presenter, and loves dancing, live gigs, Muse and shoes. @FunSizeSuze