Our young reviewer Evie Scott shares her response to Gracefool Collective’s This is Not a Wedding on Friday 4 October 2019.
‘This Is Not a Wedding’ starts with four white-clad performers on a stage decorated for celebration: and through frenzied dance numbers, panicked speeches, and a lot of running in circles, descends magnificently into chaos. It was just as brilliant as it sounds—with the tone ricocheting from pantomime comedy into thick and pensive silences; from absurd wedding waltzes to a lone voice crying out, “What is time?”
And whilst it never becomes clear what we’re celebrating, the vagueness is used to explore a range of themes surrounding what it means to be a woman in the face of tradition. Despite repeatedly being told that ‘This Is Not a Wedding’, it was hard to dissociate the white dresses and cake from what we expect of marriage, and thereby women. Amidst the disarray, we start to wonder—with feminist politics increasingly in the public mind, is the staunch symbolism and tradition of a wedding still valid?
As all the performers have backgrounds in dance—physical theatre and movement play a large role in the play, as do the costumes used. Oversized wedding dresses exist as props to move with; as mats to roll on; and sometimes as weights to carry: being lifted and shed when the characters stop and discuss their doubts and fears, questioning why we don’t stop and face what society expects of us, why we pass our time without thought, as slowly it dribbles away.
I loved how engaged everyone was (whether entertained and refreshed, or thoughtful and slightly scandalised)—I found it really empowering.