Mad Womxn In The Attic lets you know what it’s up to from the start. The play opens with a direct address to the audience (“Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt pain”), picking out pages of the script like tarot cards to be played in a random order. This play knows how experimental it is, and the acknowledgment of the audience really gets to the heart of the play's issues, feeling fresh and grown up. Interestingly, there is not an audience for this play, but rather a witness.
The individual sequences of this play are fantastic. A dance sequence, where the main character puts on feminine clothing ‘incorrectly’ points to the restrictiveness of current gender roles, as well as the ‘refitting’ of them. An audio recording of the main character in pain, accompanied once more by a dance routine, wrenches the audience into this intimate and difficult moment. The audience being asked to ponder their experience of resilience was also interesting, even if it somewhat broke up the structure of the play.
Whilst I greatly enjoyed this style, I think the play needed to lean into it more. The production tells the audience things directly, but it may have been more effective to rip out the heart of these issues and lay them bare rather than skirting around their edges. A monologue about how queerness and pain intersected, and how the blurred lines of gender identity had led to an acceptance of chronic pain, was fascinating. However, this randomised style lacked build and did not allow for and in-depth exploration of any of the issues discussed.
Ultimately, the play is an interesting piece about the under-explored and under-appreciated topic of female pain. However, it would benefit from a more rigid structure, whilst keeping at heart its direct experimentalism.
'Mad Womxn In The Attic' was on at The Tristan Bates Theatre.
Edited by Alexia McDonald, Digital Editor