Review by Carly Fisher
Sharing intimate truths is not an easy thing to do. Especially when they are almost confessional.
She/Her examines what it is to tell such truths by sharing the stories of 7 women from all walks of life and inviting audiences to intimately engage with particular moments of lived experiences - some that they may be proud of, others that have clearly been more challenging.
Director Nicole Ansari-Cox has employed a number of different methods by which to tell these tales - song, projection, monologue and the occasional role play. This diversity in modes of storytelling is particularly effective in keeping up the pace of the piece.
Some of the stories shared hold their power in that they seemingly offer a sense of catharsis to the performer in sharing this truth. This is particularly true of Callie Rose Petal’s performance, her story shared through song, in what is undoubtedly the stand out piece of the production. In these rare but exciting instances, the purpose of the show is made clear. Unfortunately at other times though, the story is perhaps too personal to hold a universality that excites the audience, or are just not as impactful, and it is here that the story lags.
The musicianship on stage is another highlight - the mix of accordion, violin, guitar, harp and more are executed perfectly and give the show a heightened sophistication which is commendable. Here it is Ada Grace Francis who truly stands out, captivating as she sings and performs as a multi-instrumentalist.
Michelle Joyner’s recollection of the perils of isolation, covid and family life had a familiarity that made her story incredibly engaging - throughout her monologue I couldn’t help but notice the nodding heads of many an audience member, all remembering the complexities and hardships of their own lockdown, no doubt, but also empathizing greatly with her stories of loss, fear and motherhood.
This show has toured from an original production in New York City but it was lovely to see how the original and the Ed Fringe versions of this piece blended for this performance. Returning to their roles after starring in the American production were Director/Performer, Nicole Ansari-Cox, writer, speaker and abolitionist Antoinette Cooper and Actress and Writer Michelle Joyner. Joining for the Scottish season of the production are Singer/Songwriter Mairi Campbell, Scottish-Kenyan Actress Kanany Kirimi, Actress and Performance Maker Callie Rose Petal and Multi-intstrumentalist and Singer, Ada Grace Francis.
Each offer a true gift to the production in that they are sharing their own, very personal stories. The magnitude of this cannot be understated and I give all a lot of credit for their courage to share intimate truths about themselves through this platform - it makes for an interesting commentary on what it is to be a woman.
Some of the direction for me felt a little too forced in its symbolism and I wish that there was some opportunity for worlds to collide or stories to interweave in some capacity between the actors but ultimately, whilst no stand out for me at the fringe, I am certainly grateful to have had the opportunity to share in these personal stories with the women who lived them.
Image Credit: Andy Phillipson