Home » Reviews » Off West End » Nineties Woman, Camden People’s Theatre – Review

Nineties Woman, Camden People’s Theatre – Review

Written and performed by Rosie Wilby

Pros: A charming show presenting the soft face of feminism.

Cons: It was very light and gentle. It felt as though it could have been more penetrating with more social context.

Our Verdict: A very pleasant, one woman performance that is gently entertaining and bemusing with interesting subject matter, although lacked oomph.

Courtesy of Camden People’s Theatre

Rosie Wilby presents what I can only describe as an oral history of her experiences as part of a feminist magazine at York University.

It’s rather charming as it blends a personal account of loves, losses and personal politics alongside motivations and desires of an 18 year old discovering pro-women issues and female solidarity. Rosie is a comedian but presents a pleasantly shambolic story. It feels more like a close friend recounting amusing anecdotes over tea than a tight theatrical performance.

The show had a jovial curve to it where we discover Rosie’s main motivation throughout most of her involvement with feminist publication Matrix (as in Greek panthology, rather than reality-bending (or is it)) at York University was not an overaching desire to change the world. It is that of romantic crushes and desire for acceptance. The show questions the notion of being politically pure at heart. Which, in my view, is part of what feminism is about on a grant scale.

Unfortunately, the show started 25 minutes late and near the end of the performance, we were unable to see the last few slides and clips, robbing Rosie not only of her very nice circular shaped show but of her finishing punchline. The benefit of this style of show is that a jovial empathetic atmosphere had been created so as an audience we suffer with Rosie rather than because of her.

Rosie clearly has strong views. She still identifies as a feminist, she is still asking how anyone can be disinterested in their own equality, but this is not a thread of the show. Even in her uni years she was speaking on Uni TV, working on the newspaper and even became Women’s Officer, yet there is little of the conviction in this show.
Not every piece has to be political, it was a joy that it was so personal; but it left me nothing to ponder, even on a individual scale. By downplaying the politics for the crushes I felt that she actually hid an important part of her self from us which felt a little cheaty as the show had the ton of intimate sharing of the self about it. It can be summed up in the interesting reveals – who kissed who, who married men, who turned out a ‘political lesbian’ – but the most interesting comment of the night was an aside where Rosie genuinely asks: how can anyone be disinterested in their own equality?

It’s possible to have a fun and light-hearted romance-centric show but still be meaty. I see a lot of potential in this show to dispel a lot of sterotypes, be fun, witty, personable and punchy, but it’s not there just yet.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

Nineties Woman at Camden Peoples Theatre staged on 1 November 2013.
Visit the website for further shows: http://www.cptheatre.co.uk/search.php?searchid=current

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