Oh Yes Oh No
- Eddie Harrison
- 12 August 2019
A survivor story of rape expressed as a performance piece with dolls
It's not a advisable for a man to tell a woman how a show about surviving rape should be constructed; the elephant in the room is that the vast majority of sexual violence is committed by men on women, and this obvious fact is rarely addressed. Louise Orwin's performance piece comes to the logical conclusion that it's good to talk about the issues involved; it is, however, debatable how effectively she makes her points.
Oh Yes Oh No deals with sexual violence and features audience participation; that's a tricky idea for starters. A man is chosen from the audience to help Orwin act out various scenarios with naked male and female dolls on a diorama; one features an abducted woman being forced to have sex with two men in an alleyway. Meanwhile Orwin, dressed in a blond wig and cocktail dress, engages in a dialogue with the audience about what they might want from her, and about what she might want too.
Her voice is distorted into a helium squeak, and what she's saying isn't always clear. The show's content is described by Orwin in ways that are deliberately constructed to sound like a come-on, putting the audience in the role of the attacker or abuser. That's a bold stratagem, but when the antics with the dolls elicit laughter from the audience, it's notable that the laughter only comes from men.
Orwin puts forward the idea that it's difficult for women to express their sexuality after the repressive act of rape, and her show gets that point over. But it does not do so through incisiveness, but through the layers of impacted confusion that the title suggests, and the themes have to be spelled out in a final monologue. Orwin's heart seems to be in the right place, but the atmosphere of the show and its dramaturgy obscures her intentions.
Summerhall, until 24 Aug 24 (not 19), 7.20pm, £12 (£8).