SCARY SHIT

Wed 3rd – Mon 29th August 2016

reviews

Anna Livesey

at 09:54 on 17th Aug 2016

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If I was to offer a piece of advice to potential viewers of 'Scary Shit', it would be not to trust the first ten minutes. Although this play gets off to a pretty slow start, it’s a work of magic by the end of the hour.

But the play should grip you from its concept alone. Devised around two women’s real-life experiences of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, 'Scary Shit' offers a dramatic representation of phobia, anxiety, and depression. It is fresh and funny, but also sensitive and really, really true. It takes seriously the feelings that it goes on to ridicule, because it’s ok to laugh at “cocks and fannies” and it’s also ok to be a worrier.

CBT, as the chattier of our double act, Rhiannon Faith, explains, is about visualising and articulating our fears, and this is the process that 'Scary Shit' enacts. Choreographed sequences, like Faith’s “The Day That That Twat Got His Mate To Call Me Up And Dump Me” are hilarious to watch, but they also teach one of the piece’s most powerful lessons: that you don’t have to speak things aloud to let them out. A balloon twined in rope at the back of the stage is a prime example of this, and Maddy Morgan’s interactions with it are some of the high-points of the show.

On the other hand, I find the moments of speech the most moving, because what is said, is said beautifully. I love the spoken word poems, and I would love to read them again; one is sad, the other moving, both proving that these women are more than just great movers.

Although, of course, they’re that too, and when these two things combine, the piece is a triumph. It might well have been awkward to watch the duo dry-humping over an account of Faith’s early sexual experiences, but instead, again, the moment strikes a perfect balance between poignant and funny. That just about sums 'Scary Shit' up, so don’t be surprised when Morgan’s climactic dance culminates in a lively musical rendition of “Maddy and her Muff”.

And don’t be surprised that a play which features a lot of pink and fluffy things, is a lot less than fluffy. The pair tackle their experiences as women head-on, and with overwhelming energy and honesty. 'Scary Shit' creates something witty and genuinely original: a shared experience that feels, without being a cliché, a bit like entering each of their respective minds.

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Miriam Brittenden

at 10:18 on 17th Aug 2016

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‘Scary Shit’, a two-woman show written, directed, produced and performed by Rhiannon Faith and Maddy Morgan, is in a few words, bold, brave and sassy. It is a form-defying and experimental show about being a woman (with all the real life gritty bits), friendship, and a stunningly vivid and honest portrait of two women’s experiences with mental health.

The concept for the show is breathtakingly original. It is based upon a series of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions Faith and Morgan actually had, using recordings of their therapists’ voice. It’s the blend of authenticity with the outlandish which gives this show the edge.

Rhiannon and Maddy take us on a very personal journey through the course of their therapy, in an explosion of creative theatre: clowning, comedy, spoken word, dance and physical theatre. We learn that Rhiannon is anxious, neurotically so – scared of anything and everything, whilst Maddie, though less upfront about her fears, certainly has some.

Some of it is plain bizarre: at regular intervals, Rhiannon hits herself with two large inflatable boxing gloves whilst Maddy squirts her with a water gun. At various points, we move into sketch comedy – a particularly hilarious sketch features ‘two fannies on a walk’. Such comedy is contrasted and complemented with some incredible spoken word sequences: Faith’s ‘Holy shit I haven’t had a baby yet’ and Maddy’s sequence about her lack of periods, inject a great deal of pathos into the piece.

What begins as an insight into the mind of a woman’s compulsive anxiety becomes a much deeper tale about the experiences that shape us, and the fears that hold all women to ransom. It is also an honest discussion about the difficulties of helping a friend experiencing mental breakdown.

The trump card of 'Scary Shit', however, has to be the physical theatre, which enables the show to explore its core theme of mental health in ways that conventional acting cannot. Morgan deserves a particular mention for her stunning dance sequences, which often run alongside Rhianon’s louder speeches. The stand out moment for me is Maddy’s physical entanglement in the rope- knotted heart which hangs from the ceiling. This piercing visual image of mental breakdown will remain in my mind for a long time. It is just one example of how well costume and set are seamlessly woven into the action.

At times ‘Scary Shit’ is bleak, and certainly not for the mild-mannered – but it is this that I find so refreshing. Diving head first into content from sexual violence to vaginas, within the broader topic of anxiety, 'Scary Shit' succeeds in making the taboo beautiful. This has the potential to open up so many conversations, and I would thoroughly recommend it.

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