Camden Fringe 2021
How has the phrase ‘Daddy Issues’ become a way of insulting women instead of the men who have messed them up? Because when protagonist, Natalia (Anna Krauze), makes this statement it redefines the whole phrase for me. It’s now, I realise, something deeply rooted in sexism and toxic masculinity. This was everything Krauze’s Daddy Issues represented; the unspoken truth, taboo subjects surrounding female sexual pleasure and the role of the absentee father.
As the provocative pop songs fade away and the lights come up, we see a messy artists apartment full of vulva paintings and a rather strange picture wall of ‘DILFs’, including the likes of heartthrob Idris Elba and The Rock. Natalia answers the phone in the middle of the room and instantly becomes anyone you want her to be. Welcome to the Daddy Issues Line, its sole purpose being to pleasure men with school girl fantasies, or as Natalia puts it…“it’s like a TV drama; I deliver the cliff-hangers so you come back for the next episode.”
Krauze’s script is witty, comical and, most importantly, it’s real. There are some genius moments in this one woman show; laughter fills the room when Natalia slaps on a flat cap and impersonates one of the dads on the line wanting her to roleplay as his daughter’s best friend, Millie. She takes us through the journey of what women go through on a daily basis, from unsolicited penis pictures in our DMs, to ensuring our vulvas are ‘baby smooth’ for men. There is such a contemporary commentary on female sexual pleasure in this play. Through comedy, Natalia spends the hour crushing stereotypes and taboos and establishes herself as an artist who often struggles with the repercussions of her vulva paintings and just can’t catch that break she needs in the industry.
Just when you think Daddy Issues is all dark comedy and overt sexual gestures, we get to see an extremely vulnerable side to Natalia. The emotional conviction in her final monologue describing her own relationship with her father is both moving and captivating. The subtly in her movements and words juxtapose the first half, really setting the tone of what both Krauze and director, Coral Tarran, want to achieve.
Despite moments of hilarity and truth, the lack of pace makes it hard to follow along and laugh in the right places at the right times. As Natalia is such a manic character, constantly tousling her hair and flailing her arms around, it is hard for her surroundings to keep up. A few technical delays and extremely long pauses for dramatic effect just don’t work for this wild character. Throughout Natalia speaks to the sky as if someone is judging her yet it is not quite consistent enough to have meaning and therefore flaws the punchy script.
Overall, Daddy Issues is definitely still finding its feet. Its dark comedy and emotional integrity really makes it what it is, an advocate for female sexuality and the fragility of male dominance. With its brilliantly empowering script and themes, just a little polish around the edges makes it a firm contender for Camden Fringe 2021.
Written by: Anna Krauze
Directed by: Coral Tarran
Produced by: Anna Krauze