Show: Bodily Functions and Where to Find Them
Venue: theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall
Star rating: ****
Reviewer: Viki Matejova
It’s rare to see a British cast talk openly about periods and urine, so ‘Bodily Functions and Where to Find Them’ feels like a breath of fresh air. The play, written and directed by Izzy Cutler, stars three actors who take on several roles. Maisie Dadswell, Charlotte McEvoy and Will Norris not only unpack taboo subjects with an English wit, they also bring to life a story of teenage heartbreak.
I thought I might feel at least slightly uncomfortable while watching it, and I was partly right – but I think that’s the whole point. Besides, I only felt that at the beginning. Over the course of the play, the atmosphere and the energetic interactions between characters definitely ease you into the topics. It felt relatable and real. There were some genuinely comical moments. I feel like I am wiser now that I can tell the difference between a touchdown poo and a turtle poo. Above all, I was impressed by the structure of the narrative.
The play is arranged into chapters, or bodily functions, like poo, sweat, you name it. At the same time, it is tied together with an overarching narrative: a friendship between two girls, a first boyfriend, and other coming-of-age issues. The scene changes are clear, abrupt, and culminate in an experience that can best be described as an emotional rollercoaster. The actors complement each other in a way that sets the scene, and you can really imagine them sitting on the toilet with the help of very few props.
By the end, ‘Bodily Functions and Where to Find Them’ has managed to address taboos about things we do with our bodies daily yet almost never talk about. It also briefly raises awareness about eating disorders – although I wish that topic was given more time to be unpacked. The male teenage character was the only one that I found disappointing at times. To me, his musings on being a male feminist came across as cringe-worthy and superficial. It is challenging to portray that perspective and make it look authentic. We lack templates for what feminist men look like in theatre, and we even lack real life examples that are not eventually disappointing. I think I needed something more to buy that part.
In short, I think that the play is very ambitious in what it attempts to cover in only under an hour, and is very much worth seeing if you can for the last days of its Fringe run. If not, I look forward to what Amplify Theatre will create in the future. The message here is resounding and important: we should all get better at talking about our bodies.
Bodily Functions and Where to Find Them: tickets available here
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall
2-10 August (not 4)
7.05pm (50 minutes)