views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

A Tit Show
Etcetera Theatre
17th August 2015

★★★☆☆

Laura Graham Anderson and Moa Johansson

Photography provided by Mojo Company

Most women have breasts. They come in different shapes, sizes and colours, but they're not exactly a rarity in this urban jungle. Boobs are everywhere. If you're female, there's probably a pair attached to your front. Whether they should be regarded as functional, aesthetic or both has been debated time and time again with varying amounts of honesty, but the fact that we're even talking about them proves what a fixation we as a species seem to have with them. No prizes for guessing the topic of Mojo Company's A Tit Show.

When we first meet co-devisers and co-performers Moa Johansson and Laura Graham Anderson, they're still, almost like mannequins. Their bras are decorated with pointed party hats (early Madonna style) and shiny bows, suggesting the contents are some sort of special present to unwrap. Well, for those of you who would like that sort of gift in your stocking, rest assured, there's no coyness - the performers remove their bras almost straight away, showing us exactly what was covered up.

If you want to see some naked flesh, this isn't called A Tit Show for nothing. However, to badly paraphrase naked standup Miss Glory Pearl (sorry, Glory) the sight of someone not wearing any clothes has a very limited shock factor. After only a few minutes, the audience always acclimatises, so there has to be more to a show than just nudity, or it gets dull very quickly.

Honestly, I had my doubts for the entire first third whether there would be more. I didn't know if there would be anything else to come other than just bouncing boobs and brightly-coloured balloons and had the strains of "Why don't you like me?" from The One with the Soap Opera Party repeating in my head. When it comes to feminist theatre, I do always worry what I'm watching is going to turn into Chandler's personal hell. However, have patience. The beginning is slow and repetitive and should be edited, but Mojo Company do have an interesting message to tell and they do this in the rest of the show, with the final two thirds much stronger.

As Johansson explains the many ways in which her breasts could save the world if only they were more famous, she emphasises the point that they really aren't that exciting. They express milk, they're erogenous - but most of the time, they just are. They sit there, just being. Both performers smear their chests with paint and glitter, almost daring the audience to stare. If that's not enough, Johansson uses a halved glitter ball to draw attention to her chest, with light radiating from the silver hemispheres. It's almost as if the sun itself is shining from her breasts and yet, there's still nothing that powerful about them.

The use of a picture frame by Graham Anderson to shame pretty much every large corporation she can think of is clever, and well-executed. I do think there was probably a missed opportunity to take another swipe at Protein World though. Personally, those adverts didn't bother me (you know the ones I mean), but some of the targets named didn't really strike me as the worst offenders in poorly thought-out ad campaigns.

The overwhelming message in A Tit Show is that the performers' jiggly bits aren't going to solve the world's problems, and neither are yours or mine. Now, I'm not sure I ever thought mine would, but it would be nice if everyone would always talk to my face, and it's a point that the company make well. They're not worth staring at or obsessing over, and as a general rule, the woman attached to a pair of breasts may well have something to say that is worth listening to, so do always look up. There's far more to A Tit Show than mere shock value, there are some very well-considered intelligent arguments behind all the glitter.

A Tit Show opened on 17th and runs until 19th August 2015 at the Etcetera Theatre, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Camden Town (Northern)



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