Most of us have had that moment when we pause and think: “Are the Gods still messing with us?” Sometimes life does imitate myth in the most bizarre and misogynistic of ways. Dara Beth’s debut play, Nasty Womxn, takes this question a step further and gives audiences a look at feminism through an ancient-meets-reality-TV ‘lens’, in an attempt to expose truths by shining a cellphone screen back-light on everyday life – a life where modern womxn are simply trying to survive society.
Now, before I continue to muse about The Furies who challenge The Fates with this new production, I must confess myself personally invested in a small way. Invested in that I more than a year ago had a conversation with the talented Beth (then still a final year student, on her way to cum her drama degree), when she shared the initial concept of Nasty Womxn (then still nameless) with me, and it grabbed my attention so much that I later did a Spotlight piece featuring her as a young theatre voice to watch. I have since seen her develop her vision in association with the theatre company, The Furies Co-op, of which she is a founding member, and even had the privilege to sit in on a bit of the first Nasty Womxn reading. Plus, Maria Vos, one of the actresses in this play is Theatre Scene Cape Town’s favourite stage-to-screen reviewer.
In short, I was emotionally invested when I took my seat at Alexander Upstairs to see the first ever performance of Nasty Womxn. I exited with happy tears in my eyes, knowing that Beth and everyone else who put heart and soul into this project, succeeded in creating a unique theatre experience that will make the Zeuses of today squirm a bit, as they should.
Nasty Womxn is a (Greek) tragedy masquerading as a comedy: A dramedy that brings to the stage a range of scenarios with three femtastic mystics unpacking reality by telling it like we wish it wasn't. The play engages with social commentary in the language of the now. Even though that tone may not hit the mark with everyone, it will resonate with those who should hear the message most: not all that glitters deserves a follow or a like.
Masali Baduza, Kathleen Stephens, and Maria Vos balance each other well in presence, attitude, and performance style – each bringing a unique perspective to this piece. I cannot imagine anyone else portraying their multitude of roles with the natural onstage intuition and chemistry they have. Their characters address a range of issues, from identity and stereotypes to body autonomy, with a strong feminist spirit. However, what Beth’s text does so brilliantly is – unlike most feminist theatre productions – it doesn’t hit the audience in the face with the theme, but rather lures them in with humour and clever dialogue… until that moment when the penny drops. And drops the penny definitely does.
Ultimately, you cannot start a trend without a tag(line), and these Nasty Womxn definitely know how to hash(tag) it out onstage with a relevant and witty narrative. Although that may make them sound superficial, simplicity can be deceiving. The sketches and ideas at play are so layered, I want to see this show again to truly appreciate its complexity.
So, take note Cape Town, there is a new playwright and director in town, and she is bringing an unorthodox, offbeat vision, along with some fresh acting talent, to the theatre scene.
Whether you love or hate the world of the Kardashian-generation and everything associated with it – from plastic politics and twitter wars to fake news – you should go see Nasty Womxn at Alexander Upstairs by 14 November 2017 or you can also book for the return run between 14 and 20 January 2018. Hint, if you book online, you get an amazing discount too. Please note, the play does carry a warning for profanity and smoking.