This review was originally written for the daily Flare Festival publication.
Feels quite naughty to be just behind the Manchester Museum and being exposed to a 45-minute show featuring dildos, singing vulvas and alternating vagina wigs, but saying this, it was quite a relief to go back into the normal world after Marja Christians and Isabel Schwenk’s performance. The show starts off with a very casual exchange of masturbation stories, sleepover style, with the performers Christians and Schwenk entering the audience, supposedly to create a more intimate setting for the tennis rally of titbits to bounce off each other. After everyone un-tenses from the fear that they are to embark on some audience participation, we hear tales of friends using swimming pool jets for sexual pleasure, and fantasies about riding heavy machinery causally swung around in a light hearted manner.
We then enter the strange world of Judith, a character inside a play that seemingly explores femininity, masculinity and sexual desire. Their naked bodies start to intertwine and form strange positions that blend typical masculine and feminine shapes together. The performance progresses with a series of stage directions to set up the scene without really setting it up, and then comes the bit with the armful of dildos. Of course, dildos are hilarious and everyone has a little giggle at the sight of them being bounced off the stage, but small comments about while female privilege and consumerism are thrown around making the silly gestures much more directed towards a serious wider issue. A costume full of dildos is strapped to their bodies and their heads as they stare intensely into the audience is both uncomfortable and fun to watch, yet I’m not sure what I’m actually meant to be feeling throughout the silliness of it all. Perhaps I am meant to feel rage from these bodies being subjected to a gaze, or maybe I should just laugh because it’s so ludicrous and everyone is so silent in case it’s not meant to be funny.
The finale begins with a rather charming singing vulva that, after the slight shock of seeing a woman singing into another woman’s crotch, becomes a very striking image that is mesmerising to watch.
The absurdity of the performance from the two students of The University of Hildesheim, correlates with their stance on female image and consumerism, and although I may not fully understand the meaning, I could certainly feel the tension between the physical comedy and the weightiness of its context. Work like this can be hard for me to grasp what the actual intention is, but I believe that I can see the connections between the sexually themed comedy and over-consuming, over sexualising of bodies that we are faced in light of this. Overall, watching the two performers from Germany was a visual delight and a nice addition to Future Flares.