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Published on Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Trilogy is "an epic three-part interrogation of what it means to be a woman today." Epic it may be in scope, but it is decidedly untheatrical. Much of it could be delivered as a lecture, and indeed a lot of information is shared in that way - meaning that Trilogy often has the distinct feel of part workshop, part support group and part university student production.

Obviously, this is deeply personal and meaningful to the creators - and that comes across clearly. But it’s not shown as theatre; rather, we are told. Speaking in unison worked for the Greek chorus, but theatre has evolved since then. Posing lots of questions in unison and having long pauses doesn't work any more; nor do the repetitive movements that do not build towards anything. If more moments worked theatrically, then Trilogy could become powerful as well as personally liberating.

Using footage from the 1971 Town Bloody Hall debate - a debate on women’s liberation including Jill Johnston, Jacqueline Ceballos, Diana Trilling, Norman Mailer and Germaine Greer - provides great iconography, which could be used theatrically. Recreating it onstage, its visual parallels to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper are stunning - who would Mailer be cast as? Their attempts to develop the film sequence are limited; however the final image in part two is delightfully irreverent, as they sit backing the audience, naked.

This of course, brings up nudity in the theatre. With swearing now practically part of the everyday vernacular, nudity is almost the last bastion of theatre with a capacity to, if not shock, then surprise. While the sight of a large group of naked women dancing exuberantly is fun and joyous and the example above works well, continued nudity does tend to devalue its theatrical impact. This, however, may be just the point – to demystify it so that people are comfortable enough to participate, which some do at the end of the show.

Presented by two genial performers Nic Green and Laura Bradshaw, Trilogy does contain a strong and positive message. One segment in part three momentarily transcends; while discussing herstory and voice, they stumble upon slides of atrocities against women. The discrepancy between those who have the choice to write their herstory and those who have no choice at all is powerful and chilling. Compared to those, it is clear that the UK suffragettes have succeeded - but there is still more work to be done so that all women can share basic human rights.

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