Powerful Women Are About

Thu 3rd – Sun 27th August 2017

reviews

Laura Wilsmore

at 10:35 on 18th Aug 2017

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Lucy Hopkins’ show is incredibly hard not to love. A hodgepodge of a ceremonial ritual, comedy act and Theremin love-affair, it is a wickedly enjoyable hour. Whilst it takes a while for the audience to warm to the intoxicatingly strange style of the piece, everyone eventually falls into a state of delirious hysterics. It is the most I have laughed so far in my time at the Fringe. Hopkins owns the space, involving every audience member in-the-round. She assured us that if we felt the need to ‘purge, vomit, sweat, cry or shit’ that she was prepared to deal with that. It was quite the introduction to a show that is truly hard to describe.

Hopkins interweaves narratives about the origin of life, birth and witches amongst her ceremonial procedures. Summoning the darkness (or switching off the lights) repeatedly allowed her to switch position and prepare to shock us again once more. Undoubtedly, one of Hopkins’ greatest assets is her incredibly quick wit. In one of the moments of ‘darkness’, a cover over one of the bar’s lights began to fall off, penetrating the darkness she had created. Somehow, she made this into one of the funniest moments of the show, teasing that there was a ‘meaning’ in that.

Amongst her narratives, Hopkins’ audience participations were incredibly inventive. Passing around an imaginary baby and imitating the ‘voice of the cosmos’ (the Theremin) helped evolve uncertain chuckles into full on laughter. Initially terrified audience members slowly became mesmerised and united in the experience. No one was afraid to make a fool of themselves by the end, and I found it to be a joyous thing to witness. I would, however, note that some passages did feel a little slow. Despite Hopkins’ powerful voice control, there is a limit as to how much an audience are prepared to listen to a wilfully obscure tale of the ages. Other moments needed the imaginary baby to soothe us and keep us engaged. Inevitably, it does take you a while to fall for her and her outlandish ways.

The power of Hopkins as a performer is hypnotic. She owned that hovel in a dingy bar. I will not spoil it for you, but her show crescendos into an ending that is simply riotous, combining the Theremin, song and mirroring. If you take the show as an experience and ‘make what you will’ of its intended meaning, as Hopkins herself says, you cannot help but fall for it. It had me fiercely cackling like a witch. The Mythos and Logos that she describes may divide us, as the world often favours logic over our beliefs. However, we should never dismiss what may seem illogical and flippant as it could be pure genius: this show is just that. Hopkins is another Fringe creator and experimenter, spellbindingly calling to the gods of Mythos and driving you to do the same.

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Nina Attridge

at 13:02 on 18th Aug 2017

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There is no way to describe this experience other than a session of cosmic group therapy. Lucy Hopkins will, in the space of a single hour, transform you. She will transform you into a parent, into a mythic and into a believer. I honestly couldn’t tell you if the being you’re presented with upon arrival at the dingy back room of an Edinburgh nightclub was, in fact, human at all. She was sometimes a gremlin, sometimes a witch and always the angry feminist creature that resides deep within every ‘woke’ 21st century woman. If this sounds completely insane, it’s because it was.

There is wonderful charm to the fact that she clearly wanted you to have no idea what on earth was going on- but she didn’t exclude you for it. She joined you in confused laughter and looked as bemused as you felt at some of the audiences’ responses to her less than coherent propositions. Hopkins can mock the desire to find analytical meaning in every aspect of theatre, and yet fill you with the need to do just that to her own performance. It is so thoroughly bizarre your mind races with thoughts of ‘why’ and ‘what does it mean?’, but as soon as you start to accept that you’re in for the wackiest ride of your life- the show crosses the border from infuriating to hysterical. By hysterical, I mean hysterical. After half an hour, she had me crying with laughter at the slightest change of lighting or facial expression. Credit goes also to the fact that she had the most perfect response to a walkout member of the audience, instead of awkwardly pretending it hadn’t happened she simply added it to list things that need not have ‘meaning’. It turned at he wasn’t even leaving- he had understandably just head to the bar for the Dutch courage that we all probably needed to fully participate in the bizarre series of rituals we were asked to perform.

I wanted to suggest that an open mind is needed for this show to be fully enjoyed, but-in retrospect- anyone that makes it through the first twenty minutes will have been worn down so extensively by Hopkins’ eccentric wit that it becomes impossible to not be swept along. ‘Powerful Women Are About’ takes femininity and turns it into the most spiritual, enchanting, and indeed: powerful of phenomena you will ever encounter on this earth, or indeed, in this universe.

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