This strangely-named show is not, despite the title, about female celibacy. Nor, surprisingly, is it very much about actual women.
It’s an odd format in which three performers (who are actual women) regale us with monologues about characters from ancient Greek, Hindu, Orthodox Christian and other mythologies.
This is all presented as a sort of game show, a kind of ‘Imaginary Women Got Talent’ in which each of the three tell two tales in the course of the evening, which include such as Artemis and Acteon; Saint Barbara; the Sybil of Cumae; Vishnu and Shiva; Arachne; and another deity this critic isn’t familiar with. And there’s a great deal of blood, gore and superpowers among the goddesses.
At the same time, there’s much encouragement of the audience to cheer and clap at everything, and volunteers are enticed to take such roles as, for instance, a human clapometer; or a timekeeper with a flag to wave to indicate a particular tale was over-running, with instructions to the audience to point and gesticulate if that happens (It does, but it has no effect on the performer at the time, who carries on regardless).
The tales themselves are well-told and energetic, mainly with an eye to getting laughs in and among the mythical violence – which they succeed in doing, to much audience response.
At the end, the audience is encouraged to applaud as loudly as possible, so that the ‘clapometer’ can register who of the mythical deities is crowned ‘Ultimate Woman Who Gave No F*cks’ – a prize the winner can’t claim, obviously, since she doesn’t actually exist.
What is the point of all this? It’s billed as ‘celebratory and inspiring’ and clearly meant to encourage women to take power in the continuing struggle for recognition and equality.
But why not take as exemplars the real women who are, and have been, doing just that – rather than use mythical tales from ancient cultures that did not treat women well at all.
Humour can be a useful weapon, but here the general silliness of the jokey structure tends to trivialise rather than honour that struggle. Pity.
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Reviewer: John Christopher Wood | Star rating: ***