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‘A tower of strength in the female-led space’: GIRLPLAY – Online@TheSpaceUK (Online review)

This wickedly funny exploration of teenage sexuality and female curiosity is Rampant Collective’s latest show; in which young Lucy wonders when “that thing you pee out of” becomes “exciting and bad”. This is sex through slam, a play in which Lucy’s story is told through three voices (Martha Dunlea, Rachel O’Connell and writer Sarah Richardson).

Although GirlPlay has much that female listeners will identify with, it is certainly accessible to all. It looks at issues around visual images popularised by pornography, and expectations fuelled by beauty supplements. The minefield which has to be navigated between playing with Barbie dolls in X-rated positions in the bath, and making that first physical connection with a real person.

When sex is often something “nice girls don’t talk about” in popular culture, it is always refreshing to see or hear a piece which celebrates it head-on. The confidence issues, the stomach fluttering, the heights and dips of opening up to another person. The way we are all drawn to look, and touch, ourselves and other people. And, eventually, the interventions and disappointments which some of us have to face.

In this new audio version of Girlplay, the words assume the primary focus; with Sam Hardiman’s sound giving a sense of space and background without being intrusive. When, in the final third of the piece, the tone turns more serious and introspective, the words still envelope the vagina and what it means to this one person. whatever happiness and sadness it brings to her.

Director Ciara Elizabeth Smyth makes up for the lack of any visuals (other than one static image of three women with eyes and mouths distorted) by sharply distinguishing the three Lucys. They often speak in turn but at times, with excitement or apprehension, they almost fall over each other’s words. Richardson’s words are honest, yet poetic, making me rock with laughter one minute and tear up the next.

GirlPlay is a tower of strength in the female-led space. It pushes playfully at the boundaries of taste at times, but the “body as a playground”, and the cool description of physical and emotional engagement with secret spaces and physical intimacy are worth staying with the whole piece.

GirlPlay is currently available Online@TheSpace for free – for more details go here.

Image credit: Aine O’Hara.

More reviews from Online@TheSpace: Walk of Shame | Alive | Scammed | Rosegold | Happily Ever After | The Meat Cabaret

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