Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
Tues 30 Oct
words: ELEANOR MCKEON
It’s not every day that you go to a theatre production and see re-enactments of orgasms live on stage, or have tampons thrown at you in the audience. Outlandish, yes, but this show is also captivating, moving and hilarious.
Things Beginning With M sees an amalgamation of theatre production and stand-up comedy as it explores the plights and the delights of being a woman; men, menopause, the menstrual cycle, miscarriage and mammary glands to name but a few. Although somewhat grittier, the spectacle is reminiscent of The Vagina Monologues, and if you delighted in reading Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman, this show will undoubtedly tick all your boxes.
Things Beginning With M hits all of the emotions you’d expect. One moment you are clutching your sides laughing at the interpretation of adolescent ignorance regarding menstrual appliances: “This is a moon cup, chinny chin chin!” whilst subsequently you are holding back tears at a recital of post-divorce loneliness. The room was delightfully adorned with graffitied mannequins, seats arranged in a friendly circle, and personalized plaques with advice from a variety of women hanging from the ceiling. A highlight included: “Lie back and think of England”, and the opportunity for spectators to adorn the entrance with postcards inscribed with their own advice or mottos on life was a wonderful interactive touch.
The actors were superb, but it was Jessica Hayles – straight out of drama school – who shone in this production. She undoubtedly has an exceptionally bright future ahead of her. MC and comic Taylor Glenn, who appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival earlier this year, was also a highlight with her self-deprecating humour and light-hearted breaks from the powerful performances.
As the show came to a close, moving footage was played featuring Welsh women reciting their advice and anecdotes from life. The simultaneous interpretative dance, however, was slightly bizarre, but perhaps I’m just a philistine.
Director Yvonne Murphy and writer Emily Steel possess the bravery to deal with sensitive and taboo topics in an appropriate manner; Things Beginning With M consequently astounding its audience at yet another sold out show.