Laura Murphy, Contra and Carré Magique present the stunning “A Spectacle of Herself” at Summerhall. Directed with assurance by the great Ursula Martinez and performed by savvy Laura Murphy herself this is an audacious sequence of scenes exploring the frontiers of mental health, queerness, rage and the 21st Century space race. All of which off an alternate vision of being a woman in the world and on stage.
Laura Murphy is a genre-defying queer performance maker from Bristol, who makes text-driven and dynamic physical performance about things that she thinks needs to be talked about. Challenging, intimate and spectacular, her work is a cross-disciplinary fusion of theatre, live art, circus, and verbal explosion.
Technology is both form and content and Murphy’s video project work throughout the show is both innovative, accessible, and artful. When it starts it does feel like we are in for some critical theory and that the show “may be good for us”. But fear not, autobiography collides with creative practice to create a gym for the mind and a feast for the eyes. The aerial work is stunning and the resonant images and journey from the opening images of a fully clothed body to that of the closing images of the naked body are potent.
Lived experience of autism, everyday sexism, violence, and abuse pepper the content. The lone male genius gets a poke. Using direct address, lip synch and karaoke, the work navigates the personal and political, to seek out new worlds and ways to be seen and question the status quo. To be honest, the karaoke scene didn’t work for me – I just didn’t get it but I do love Whitney Houston. The final message is “Fuck the Patriarchy.” This is not the kind of show you take mum and dad to on a Saturday night (maybe you should) but it goes a long way to filling the void between easily digestible mainstream feminist fare and powerful, empowering, and provocative work. It’s the kind of thing that stays with you.
It's a super short premiere season in Edinburgh. I predict you will catch it on the festival circuit around the world.
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