Blush

Thu 4th – Sun 28th August 2016

reviews

Frances Ball

at 09:56 on 10th Aug 2016

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Blush is written by Charlotte Josephine, who performs alongside Daniel Foxsmith in this candid and vastly powerful collection of five characters’ stories about revenge porn.

Josephine and Foxsmith perform monologues that become increasingly rapid until the script is a whirlwind, and the performers are caught up in it, lit as though in a photoshoot by the heavy lights that circle them. The choreography is perfectly managed on stage and neither performer misses a single beat in this very fast paced production.

Josephine’s script takes on the modern issue of revenge porn, and sex in an age of technology. 'Blush' approaches it all candidly: social media, sex culture, finding validation in faceless likes and shares, and what to do when you realise that your children live in the same world full of porn that you do - but that you can't keep them wrapped in cotton wool forever. Everything about the piece knocked the breath out of me, and I imagine it would be even more profound to watch it as a parent.

It's also, at points, very funny. “Are you horny?” – the inevitable sext received while in the detergent aisle in Sainsbury’s elicits a brilliant scene that exposes how technology carries on without waiting for something as trivial as reality to apply to it. Ultimately though this is a show that, by discussing modern day sex culture and everything that it involves, sends more of a message than any sex education lesson ever could. If Josephine could tour the show in every school then she might just change the world - if we could all start talking about these issues like this play does. That might convey how powerfully good this piece is, but it has to be seen to be understood completely. Both Josephine and Foxsmith are note perfect in every one of the characters that they play, whether focusing on how terrifying a storm of hatred on Twitter can be, or the minefield of finding confidence and empowerment on social media platforms.

Josephine in particular has a monologue that covers catcalling, and it was one of the best performances I’ve seen at the Fringe, or indeed on most stages. It really is “a slap in the face and a call to arms”, and this very modern show should be seen by as many people as possible – it’s an absolute gem on the Fringe, and both Foxsmith and Josephine are outstanding.

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Lizzie Buckman

at 12:15 on 10th Aug 2016

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We live in a world in which lines are blurred, social media delineates our perception of reality and pornography has become everyday. But what is the effect of this new world in which we are the starts of our own fictionalised narrative, has it altered the way in which we perceive each other? Charlotte Josephine’s new play ‘Blush’ raises these questions and tackles the issues surrounding pornography with stunning clarity and a rare precision.

‘Blush’ a series of monologues performed by Josephine and Daniel Foxsmith, who each take on a variety of anonymous roles. They pace, dance and run around a central red carpet on a stage set-up as a photographer’s studio. Encircled by free standing lights pointing inwards, they are centre stage and it is simultaneously intimate and publicised, like a photo broadcast to Facebook. Electronic music pounds so loudly that you can feel it in your stomach, the lights dim and Josephine takes centre stage. She rivets attention, her opening monologue is a vindictive and gruesome revenge against the eyes of those who have seen naked photos of her younger sister, which sets the tone for the rest of the play and discards the comfort zone completely.

The broken structure demands consideration and forces the audience to confront this silent yet salient issue, draw our own links and consider both a male and female perspective. We meet a woman who squirms under the gaze of a group of builders, and a man baffled by the escalation of a drunken mistake to cyberbullying. We meet characters who we understand and who we pity. Then a bell is rung on stage, signifying an incoming tweet, an email, a comment, a like or a share, and we are painfully aware of how much other people’s opinions influence these characters’ actions.

Foxsmith and Josephine slip effortlessly between characters at a rate so dizzying as to take your breath away. Movement is used with a sweaty and raw expressiveness which is shocking to witness, and draws the actors together from their separate narratives. Whether these narratives share a plot is unimportant, because the issues raised are so far reaching as to render them almost universal.

Josephine’s writing gives a voice to an anonymous sub-culture, and is littered with mannerisms and expressions recognisable in friends, loved ones and ourselves. ‘Blush’ is strengthened further by magnificently detailed direction from Ed Stambollouian which mixed humour with gravity and delicacy. This is an important piece of work, and is carried out with stunning sensitivity: ‘Blush’ is a masterclass in sex education for the 21st century.

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