Review: dressed at Pleasance Courtyard

In dressed., four female friends perform on stage, each displaying their own distinctive talents. Josie Dale-Jones, the producer of the show, is a theatre maker, whilst Lydia Higginson is a costume designer and seamstress; Nobahar Mahdavi is a singer and songwriter, and Olivia Norris a dancer and visual artist. 

They perform barefoot, at first dressed in plain black clothes, dancing energetically to cheery music. Dark lighting signals a sudden change in tone, as Lydia recounts her traumatic experience at the age of 19, when she was stripped at gunpoint in a robbery. Afterwards, she felt uncomfortable wearing the clothes in her wardrobe, so she decided to make her own. The four friends then don the costumes made by Lydia, asking the audience to close their eyes whilst they change.

The performers then take it in turns to explore the show’s themes of trauma, womanhood and friendship. Nobahar, for instance, sings, whilst Olivia dances and Josie, for some reason, pretends to ad-lib a stand-up routine. Lydia’s moving story has obvious resonance in the #MeToo era, and it celebrates not only the power of female creativity but also the importance of friendship in difficult times. The dance routines are nothing extraordinary, and one number involving Harvey Weinstein masks comes across as rather absurd. There is much of value in dressed., but it is at times highly conceptual and not everything fits together. It feels stretched out to last an hour, occasionally reliant on recorded applause and jokey asides to the audience.

 Dressed is Pleasance Courtyard 20 – 25 August at 12:10 pm

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