Belgian collective Ontroerend Goed’s latest production explores the question of gender: laying bare the pressures and expectations exerted upon women today, and pointing towards the prejudices that underwrite them.

The show is a cross between a chamber choir piece and a spoken word collaboration: six performers recite a score that combines vocal experimentation with text, something like a Steve Reich work. There are moments when the performers break out, and scenarios develop – but it remains an essentially static, minimalist piece, with the focus upon the spoken text and the expression it is given by the formidably talented cast.

This concept of creating a bricolage effect out of the expressed recollections and reflections of the performers – reminiscent of the approach used in previous shows like Teenage Riot and All That Is Wrong – definitely works, but I felt in this production more frustrated than I did in those two shows. The issues felt so diverse, and so many – the expense of beauty products, everyday sexism, misogynistic jokes, questionable role models, attitudes towards rape – that more than ever I felt the need for some form of critical response.

Sirens reflects; it responds: it does not lure us in with a definite statement, or a positive suggestion for change.
Words: Luke Davies

Sirens, Summer Hall, 30 Jul – 24 Aug, 20:30

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