Celebrating shes

That’s What She Said (The Good Room)

Metro Arts, Sue Benner Theatre

February 11 – 15

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Metro Arts’ Sue Benner Theatre showcases a striking aesthetic upon audience entry to The Good Room’s “That’s What She Said”. The awash of pink hues brings with it the hint of an early Valentine’s day vibe, but, in fact, it is signpost of something far more urgent. And so the show begins with an assault of sound bites that would be shocking if we hadn’t unfortunately already heard their vitriolic misogyny as part of modern media norms. However, the rhetoric soon gives way to more inspiring examples of empowerment and reminder that there is no better place for this show than this theatre, a place that has always been one of storytelling.

Like previous The Good Room shows, this Metro Arts commissioned work is based on the general public’s responses to, in this case, 100 provocations about women, many of which appear as projections to thematically shape the show’s progress through passionate words of wisdom, ambition, regret and the complicated reality of life in all of its ages. There is a real craftedness to the show as a whole as ideas deliberately loop around in its progress and a touching musical motif is revisited. The deceptively simple space is used to utmost effect as props emerge from hidden away nooks and crannies only to also later make reappropriated appearance later in the production. Attention to detail is everywhere, including in a pop of pink bow here, a pink belt there and Margi Brown Ash’s fabulous pink tumble of tulle skirt, while Jason Glenwright’s lighting design both buoys us in celebrations and helps to take us along into the shadows of some sorrowful stories.

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Even if only in snippets, the show’s stories are fascinating and it easy to become enthralled in them, given the engaging skill of the female storytellers (Margi Brown Ash, Stella Charrington, Andrea Moor, Keira Peirce, Ngoc Phan, Naioni Price, Leah Shelton and Emily Tomlins, with a rotation of guest performers each night). The primary performers each have significant monologues that are all powerfully delivered. Within the space of only a few minutes, for example, Emily Tomlins takes us from the frustration of the oxymoronic expectations of being a woman to reminder of our capacity for achievement. And her witty delivery of many of the dryly humourous one liners that pepper the show is a real treat. Margi Brown Ash also shares a memorable monologue, uplifting and inspiring in its statements about the potential for change. Like Naomi Price, she appears as a noticeably generous performer who is thoroughly engaged in what others on stage are sharing, particularly the show’s younger performers.

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“That’s What She Said’ stands as testament to the mantra of truth being more entertaining than fiction. Its experience will illicit laughter and maybe even some tears but also engender a smile on your face, regardless of your gender. This is a dynamic show about broads, matriarchs and mentors, bosses, divas and dames, of all ages, from all sorts of places … women who disappoint, change lives and have a thing or two to say. But more than just this, it stands as a homage to being human. While it is at its core a celebration of the shes we love, it is ultimately a show for everyone, especially those interested in discovery of how sex is like swimming.

The Good Room always does good stuff and under Daniel Evans’ direction “That’s What She Said” is no exception. It is not just a show that the world needs now but one it will hopefully see in a return season subsequent to this Sue Benner Theatre send-off.

Photos – c/o Darren Thomas

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