TW: Mention of eating disorders.
It seems as though theatre hosted at TheSpaceUK venues are must-see shows at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival because, in my opinion, NASTY is the perfect representation of what modern independent theatre should be. This hilariously messy play uses the iconic duo that is Amy and Rio and their stories from their childhood and teenage years to reveal just how intrinsic body image and lack of self-acceptance is in the lives of young women today.
NASTY is like nothing you’ve seen before. Whilst it’s true that bigger women are (slowly) being represented in magazines and social media (through body-positive celebrities such as Lizzo), women whose bodies aren’t identical to Kendall Jenner or Bella Hadid are rarely depicted as sexy. Ironically Amy and Rio conquer this issue right at the start of the play by performing a chair dance to Ginuwine Pony.
The whole play demystifies gender stereotypes that label women as delicate and gentle beings who are afraid to “be nasty”. NASTY embraces what is deemed to be disgusting and “unladylike” like activities that are just part of women’s everyday lives, like farting and dry tampons. These ‘nasty’ activities are never depicted in the media and so, by including them throughout their play, NASTY normalises what is normal.
Together, Amy and Rio have great storytelling ability, one that creates an atmosphere engulfed within the duality of tragedy and comedy. For example, stories detailing their respective battles with eating disorders are coupled with humour. Impressively, the hilarious tragedy included in NASTY does not diminish the vulnerability and sensitivity of Amy and Rio’s life experiences. There was a delicacy to the language and choreographed gestures used in scenes illustrating eating disorders.
Rather than shying away from the topic of self-pleasure, NASTY develops this theme. Using a beautifully choreographed dance, Succulent Theatre Collective presents masturbation to be a sort of art form, in turn normalising masturbation and once again debunking societal expectations of what is acceptable for women to do and talk about. This was my favourite scene, from the production lights changing to scarlet red to the lyrical dance sequence illustrating two women unapologetically exploring self-pleasure which then leads to them exploring their sexuality. It was impeccable, never did I think a scene dedicated to masturbation could be executed so gracefully.
It is amazing how Amy and Rio, despite their different upbringings, have found shared experiences. There is an undeniable symmetry between the duo act, from the themes in their stories to the intentional symmetry achieved through lines said in unison.
NASTY is my favourite show at the Fringe this year, it is a must-see for all genders. Not only will it change your perspective on women and what is deemed by society as ‘nasty’ but will encourage you to embrace the ‘nasty’ things you do. Succulent Theatre Collective will have you questioning whether we will ever truly love our bodies, or if we will forever be haunted by our past.
See NASTY: ‘big’ girls being gross, mean and sexy at TheSpaceUK from August 22nd-27th (18+).
Image courtesy of Succulent Theatre Company.