By Anja Bless
A collection of short plays written by new and emerging women writers, She is Vigilante is raw and in your face feminism with messages and scenes that are uncomfortably familiar, even when in the absurd.
From a super hero woman helping protect women from predators on their commutes home, to an intense interrogation in a science fiction world of emojis and chatrooms, to vegetable steamers sold as protective gear for breasts, butts and vaginas; this show is certainly eclectic.
For the most part the pacing between the different pieces works well, the product promotions for anti-sexual predator or violent partner devices are a welcome laugh between the heavier content. The comedic timing of the performers during these scenes is particularly well displayed.
However, towards the end these vignettes begin to appear less often, leaving the audience without the catharsis of a short skit to ease into the next, more emotionally heavy, scene. The ending then also felt abrupt and somewhat in contrast to the rest of the show, breaking the mould and the rhythm to the point where it left audience members leaving somewhat confused. Nonetheless, this was for me the most powerfully and beautifully performed scene in the entire show.
In these more sombre scenes She is Vigilante certainly doesn’t shy away from dealing with the problem head on. Powerful monologues and performances show the raw pain and vulnerability of the cast of women performers. They don’t need to act to show how enraged they are by the fact that women are being murdered on their way home, and the lengths women go to every day to try and avoid that outcome.
In a community-based ensemble with mainly untrained performers, there is a variety of comfort and ease on the stage, with some performers almost stealing the show. However, the openness of the casting has meant that the ensemble is wonderfully diverse, demonstrating what intersectionality really looks like when done well. All of the women on the stage are united in many of their lived experiences in a patriarchal society and in their feminist energy. However each is also able to bring to the table their unique background and story which adds a unique depth to the show.
The energy of the show built over time, as the performers became more comfortable and confident with an audience in house and fed off the tangible feelings of support and mutual understanding of the shows messages given by the audience itself.
While the sound design by Ian Moorhead and the lighting design by Rachel Lee helped to enhance the storytelling of the mixed bag of short plays, the set design was not as effective. Torn up mattresses and debris gave an apocalyptic vibe, but did little to add to the scenes and in turn was therefore somewhat distracting, sometimes becoming obstacles for the performers.
On the whole, She is Vigilante is demonstrating that women are angry, that they are united, that they are diverse. It is a fantastic platform for giving these issues unique voice and a fantastic model for bringing the intersectional feminist community to the stage.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.