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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Brighton 2013 arrow Latest Reviews arrow Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History
Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History
Published on Wednesday, 22 May 2013

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3 stars

Upstairs at Three and Ten (venue website)
17-19 May, 1:00pm-1:45pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Warning: Contains strong language and nudity.
 Suitable for age 16+ only.

This is an interesting one-woman show, performed by the versatile and confident Caroline Curran. The simple premise is to present a glimpse into the lives of some notorious women, who illustrate the Marilyn Monroe quote which gives the show its title. The first of these is Marilyn herself, the second Mo Mowlam, and the third is murderer Aileen Wuornos.

It’s an incongruous trio. The inclusion of Mo Mowlam seemed most intriguing, but sadly her section was probably the slightest, despite the revelation that she had once come close to being a victim of killer Ted Bundy. Marilyn is the most substantial contributor, but is there much new to say about her? I liked the way that her voice didn’t take on that familiar breathy tone until she slipped into the iconic, white halter-neck dress – but other than that, it was impossible to escape the idea that this Marilyn was the same old Marilyn that had been seen many times before.

Wuornos was easily the most compelling performance, and I would have liked to have watch a longer show about her. Curran is mesmeric when she shuffles on the bright orange overalls and ratty wig, and begins her confrontational tirade. I was sorry when this segment came to an end – it really felt like there were more places to go. But the varying intensity of the three pieces wasn’t the only thing that felt uneven.

Try as I might, I couldn’t figure out who these women truly were, and how they connected. These three stories didn’t seem to enhance each other by being presented together. Each had a theme of abuse by men when young, and in the case of Marilyn and Wuornos this seemed linked to the women’s adult selves – but that wasn’t the case with Mowlam.

Visuals before and after the show, featuring many iconic women, seemed to suggest that it was about the stories of all women throughout history; or maybe all the women who personified the title, by making history by not being well-behaved. Except that some of those included in the slide-show didn’t really fit this idea – Anne Frank? Jackie Onassis? And some, like Rosa Parks, question what “well-behaved” really means.

In the end this is a show about a virtuoso performance. There’s nothing wrong with that, and Curran really turns one in. But I found it hard to ignore the fact that there seemed to be a further message – and I couldn’t fathom what it was.

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