Lady Parts is a feminist revue that includes sketch comedy, personal testimony, and a whole lot of political fuck-you-ness.
It’s hilarious, it’s necessary, and it’s so welcome.
Lady Parts wields transgression like a stick that it’s using to smash the piñata of the patriarchy. So we get a sketch about an abortion shower, for instance: the games include bobbing for embryos. And there’s a bit about a clandestine, cult-like meeting of women. After a while, we figure out that they’re gathering in secret to admit that they poo — and to share the shame: “It’s been six hours since I’ve sat on Satan’s throne.”
This comic material is nestled in — and contextualized by — personal and political absurdities. Stage left, there’s a Fucked-Up Corner well stocked with booze. When a cast member goes over there, takes a shot, and asks, “You know what’s fucked up?”, the audience hollers back, “What?” and the actor delivers a jaw-dropping political nugget — like the fact that, in Arkansas, a woman who is pregnant as the result of spousal rape must get her rapist’s permission for an abortion.
And stage right, cast members share personal stories about having been trapped in the goo of patriarchal culture. Cheyenne Mabberley, who’s fat — and who matter-of-factly embraces the word — tells us how common it is for guys she’s hooked up with to ask her to keep the sex between them secret. And Katey Hoffman describes how she acquiesced to an older guy’s insults, manipulation, and condescension because she was young and he seemed cool. There’s always humour in these bits, but it’s the humour of recognizing just how nuts the world is.
Lady Parts is never self-righteous. It opens with a scene in which Mabberley and Hoffman — who are the show’s central creators and who are white — congratulate and flagellate themselves in an orgy or performed wokeness, for instance, while interviewing Arggy Jenati and Agnes Tong, who are women of colour. And, in one of the most original scenes in the evening, Jenati and Tong meet on an airplane and get orgasmically excited about how right-on and feminist they both are — until they turn out not to be so right-on and feminist.
Lady Parts opens a spot for a guest performer at every show. On opening night, Scarlet Delirium, who is a First Nations burlesque queen, stripped while telling a conservationist story about an encounter between orcas and humans. She was wearing black-and-white latex orca fetish wear. How much did I love that? I loved that a lot.
With all the shit that’s going down these days — especially the shit about abortion, both here and in the States — it’s a relief to sit in the sanity and fury of Lady Parts for an hour and a half, and to share the release with an audience of like-minded (not-crazy) people.
Lady Parts is only doing this show three more times — once on Friday, twice on Saturday. Go see it.
LADY PARTS Created by Katey Hoffman and Cheyenne Mabberley. Directed by Pippa Mackie. An After Party Theatre production in The Cultch’s Historic Theatre as part of the rEvolver Festival on Wednesday, May 22. Continues until May 25. Tickets.
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