Sian Clarke is tired of all the times she’s been told to, ‘Cheer up, love’, and to be a ‘good girl’; of being patronised, and of men not taking no for an answer. She’s fed up of the unwanted advice, the sexual comments, and being told just how sexy or funny she could be if she wanted to be. Men might want her to be cute, fun, and flirty, but she’s mainly angry.
Opening with a tale of a man she’s called in to fix the guttering, Clarke recounts how he patronises her. He asks about a boyfriend, and tries some innuendo. Taking the innuendo literally, Clarke pushes it to extremes – this is beyond the creepy bloke’s idea of sexiness, and it goes a long way into making us feel uncomfortable. But it’s well judged. Clarke is a confident performer and commands the stage, managing the audience perfectly. Moments of physical theatre are taken as far as they can go, and often beyond, but it’s deftly entwined with sheer silliness; while anger and confrontation are countered with inclusion and solidarity.
The tone of the piece shifts continually, there’s a wonderful section where Clarke tells us of the benefits of meditation and how it’s calmed her down, although beneath the thinnest of veneers there is a heavy dose of sarcasm running throughout. As she takes us through the meditation she continually undercuts and disturbs us, illustrating how women can’t relax in public.
There’s a lot of mess; there’s puppets, props and polemic. Clarke throws absolutely everything at the show, and while some of the transitions are a little slow, most of it sticks. There is never less than total commitment, and though it feels crazed at times, it’s completely under control. There is a lot of nervous laughter early on, but while Clarke never lets you quite relax fully, there is genuine warmth towards her at the end for fighting the good fight on her terms and in the best way she can. She’s as funny as she wants to be.