THE PERFECT WOMAN
This piece, written and directed by Charlotte Lily-Gray takes the TV game show and twists it into a vision of misogynist hell, a sort of Handmaid’s Tale with canned audience applause. Here, two women are pitched against each other in a TV competition to win the title of Perfect Woman 2017, in an unspecified future dystopian society. The host of this farrago is a ghastly parody of every over-the-top game show host you’ve ever seen, played here with enormous panache by Liam Maddin – but this is no fluffy light entertainment show. The jokes, all nasty old sexist ones, which the women are meant to smile through; and the tension between the two, who, it turns out, are supposedly best friends, make things increasingly disturbing. And the piece gets darker and darker as its flamboyant host becomes ever more sinister; the two competitors more and more confused and fearful, taking out their tensions on each other; right to its rather chilling conclusion. This is an imaginative approach to an examination of patriarchal oppression, and women’s sometimes confused collaboration with it – provocative, sharply directed and vividly brought to life by a very able cast.
John Christopher Wood