Hanging from the ceiling of Summerhall’s Demonstration Room is Olivia (Maisy Taylor). She’s holding a rope and parts of her body are tied using the Shibari technique – a style of Japanese bondage where thin ropes form visually intricate patterns. The scene is sensual, but disturbingly reminiscent of a piece of meat hang to dry.
She talks about her body like an external object, a beautiful prop that has prompted compliments since childhood. Wanting to be acknowledged for more than just her appearance, she’s learned to mentally distance herself from it, letting people use it without this affecting her emotionally. “My beauty belongs to those who find me beautiful” she says.
When her mother (Tamsin Shasha) discovers her very popular Instagram account, with hundreds of semi-naked pictures about bondage, her feminism is questioned. Outraged, the older woman recalls the 1970s activism that wanted women to deny their femininity in favour of equality, when ropes were used against the Police as a form of protest. She delivers her speech whilst her daughter begins to tie her– physically, but also mentally – guiding her towards rediscovering erotism as a form of empowerment, teaching her to be in control of her own body.
Sleek aerial routines accompany the verbal exchange, with the two women initially climbing on two separate ropes. As the discussion progresses, they eventually come together, supporting each other and finally producing synchronised movements. It is a striking visual metaphor of how their relationship develops to find a middle ground.
Olivia doesn’t deny feminism. Instead, she offers an alternative path based on free will, one that embraces femininity and sexuality as something from which to receive pleasure. Being a feminist doesn’t mean rejecting beauty.
There’s something about this performance that will stay with you for a long time, beyond the gorgeous acrobatics and the sensuality of Shibari. Its force is in the conversation that, reflected by physical elements, evolves to reveal a significant transformation in the way we see feminism. Little is actually spoken, yet everything is shown in a visually captivating masterpiece.
Written and Performed by: Tamsin Shasha and Maisy Taylor
Directed by: Helen Tennison
Producer: Shasha and Taylor Productions
Box Office: +44 (0)131 226 0000
Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/everything-i-see-i-swallow
Booking Until: 25 August 2019