Theatre Review – dressed. @ Traverse Theatre 11/04/2019

This is a show you will look back on in 20 years and say ‘me too, I was there’. The beauty of theatre is as an audience you are complicit in its production and dressed. does not let you forget it. Your gaze, challenged from the moment you walk in. ‘Look at me’ they dance and twirl and laugh and bend, their energy captivating, drawing you into their friendship.

With dressed. it is impossible not to reflect on your own shared histories, as a women watching you are their friend, connected in the process of healing, echoing your own me too moments. As a man your gaze is confronted, they know you are watching and they ask you directly, what are you doing? dressed. caresses at the difficult flashes of what it is to be a young woman, wrapping us in their experiences as softly as thick velvet, sultrily subverting the male gaze.

When they ask you to ‘close your eyes’ whilst the heavy thuds of clothes hit the floor, it’s impossible not to peek, but you are not rewarded. Flashes of flesh to which you are uninvited, spark a collective shame burning through the seats around you. You might ask ‘surely getting up on the stage they wanted to be looked at? Surely any girl who dressed like that wanted to be looked at?’ It’s an argument we have heard a thousand times, when any rape story is repeated.

Why Lydia tells this story is significant, its important for change to happen, it’s imperative for her voice to be represented by her. Not cut and pasted and edited in quirky tales in women’s magazines. Here you hear her cry, their cry and as they carry the burden of their pain, physically lifting each other across the stage, you begin to carry it too, and hear the echoes of the other women on that fateful night.

The permission we grant others with the clothes we don, with the way we move, how we act is a power that Lydia wants to take back.  It’s heart-breaking to know the violence which inspired this piece. At 19 stripped by gunpoint Lydia Higginson has received the worse of what it is to be a woman. But she has managed to turn that horror into something truly beautiful. With the help of her friends she has dressed herself back to health. Magically the piece is able to show both the joy of that strength together and the pain of that love.

At the end, when ‘close your eyes’ is repeated, you feel no urge to peek.



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