Review: Beauty is Pain – Joanne Kilday

Show – Beauty is Pain
Venue – Paradise in the Vault
Rating – ****
Reviewer – Joanne Kilday

Beauty is Pain is a political performance art piece surrounding Donald Trump’s support of the Miss USA pageants and treatment of women in the mainstream media. It delves into the superficial nature of the pageants and reveals the inner workings of the industry. It is a verbatim piece with Trump’s words occupying both male and female narratives interwoven into the fabric of the production slowly broken down by the performance, which then allows the audience to consider how patriarchal power persists in today’s society. 

PC Productions brings us a show about misogyny and assault in the world of the US beauty pageants. The story is based around 4 women competing to be Miss USA and the price they pay to be successful. From what I could tell it was all based on true events and highlighted Donald Trump’s influence on the events and on how the women acted. The main story focused on the newbie being groomed by the male presenter who had clearly done this to a past contestant. The whole play highlighted the toxic nature of the pageants and how many of the women weren’t believed even by the other contestants or that the behaviour was just down to jealousy.

The changing point for them was when the misogynistic host was overheard boasting about the assault of the women and how he can get away with anything because he is famous, there is even reference the phrase ‘grab her by the pussy’ which Trump was recorded saying. This then spurs the women on to report the abuse they have experienced and go to court over it. Throughout these closing comments which appeared to be in a courtroom there was images playing on a screen in the background of Trump at pageants and then #MeToo protests. 

I really enjoyed the play, the story was so relevant and really honest. It highlighted the importance of speaking up and supporting women in these situations. I do think it could have been a little longer and maybe explored the women’s relationships a bit more in detail, even shown us some flashbacks of how things had been before this latest pageant. I really think it was a really important story to tell and really well done, I am so glad I got the chance to see it.

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