Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Theatre Review: MUST – The Inside Story

MUST – The Inside Story

By Suzy Willson and Peggy Shaw
Performed by Peggy Shaw

Library Theatre Company, until 26 May 2010

Reviewed by Paul Kane

Shaw’s mesmerizing performance flowed from beginning to end.
She touched upon the body as intimate stranger, our own portion of nature. Her own body and what had happened to it (accident and injury), the manipulation of the bodies of those close to her (her mother’s ECT in the ‘50s, the recent death of her sister), the body of the earth.

In constraining identity and making what or who we are possible, the body is pretty much key. That much is obvious, perhaps too obvious. For it has until fairly recently (I’m thinking in particular of Maxine Steets-Johnstone’s work and the so-called ‘corporeal turn’) been curiously overlooked.

How Shaw worked: a stream of striking poetic images, delivered with panache. Gusto, a vividness of presence, is what she showed in abundance. There was music, also, and a series of archive medical images (of the heart and the microbiology of the blood and diverse innards) and an animation involving skeletons in a cemetery.

It is not often that a play or performance piece can so aptly be described as ‘excoriating’. Let us therefore rejoice in the fact that here the word fits like a glove. And let us also rejoice in the existence of the astounding Peggy Shaw.
MUST – The Inside Story is showing at the Library Theatre in Manchester until 26th May, as part of the Queer Up North festival.

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