Dr Carnesky wants you to know that she is absolutely a real doctor before she treats you to a performative lecture about her findings on the taboo topic of menstruation. She proposes that all menstruation is magic and uses mythology, images from pop culture, art, history and, of course, performance art and cabaret to make a strong case.
All of Carnesky’s incredible bleeding women are self-appointed ‘menstranauts’ and also members of the alternative cabaret and performance art scene. Together over a three month period, they’ve explored what it means to menstruate and by exploring ancient menstruation rituals, they have created their own as responses.
The show consists of these performances: some which are daring, some shocking and all entertaining. MisSa Blue dares to swallow knives, Fancy Chance adds the circus to the cabaret, while Nao Nagai enacted serpentine menstrual imagery with her performance. H Plewis uses interpretive dance to share her experience of menstruation and brings to the stage her baby, the youngest member of the company. Finally, Rhyannon Styles shares her experience of menstruation as a trans woman, realising that even if it’s not a typical menstrual cycle, we are all in tune with something.
This show is interesting and educational, heartwarming in places and certainly not for anyone who’s squeamish. It’s a provocative piece of feminist theatre with everything from dangerous stunts to sincere testimonies of what it means to be a woman, told through the prism of the natural process that unites us all.
Words: Katie Mckenzie
Dr Carnesky’s Incredible Bleeding Women, Pleasance Courtyard, Aug 17-28 (not 21), 2pm