Nadia Kamil: Wide Open Beavers!
A funny and literate assault on oppression
This article is from 2013.
Nadia Kamil's Wide Open Beavers! is a surprise from minute one. Whether you're expecting a rodent dissection or a peek at lady parts, the reality is far from either, and far better. One of a deluge of young women seeking to reclaim, redefine and defend feminism from its detractors as being out-dated, unnecessary, unfunny or (in many of its current guises) ironic, Kamil espouses an unabashed and literate response to the ongoing tragedy of female oppression.
Featuring an arsenal of references including burlesque, victim-blaming, gender stereotyping and Georgia O'Keeffe, with a military strategy honed using contemporary gender theory, and a quiver full of comedy talent, she presents a two-pronged attack: feminism and whimsy (shall we call it feminimsy? Perhaps not). Kamil brings together the kind of unapologetic political rants one expects of Mark Thomas, but with a sweet and cuddly kookiness that can all-too-easily be dismissed as ‘girly’. The two are presented as opposites, the whimsy included to counteract the seriousness of the feminist message.
Over the course of her hour, what cleverly emerges is the crossover between the two prongs with the best segments combining the two. During the mental assault of Kamil's whirlwind show, she collapses the dichotomy, demonstrating how feminist jokes can be farcical and whimsical material can be subversive and have political bite, showing how things needn't be one thing and not another.
Wide Open Beavers! relies on the element of surprise so, without revealing too much, you can expect a comedy onslaught that doesn't let up for a moment. Between the inventive audience interaction, a brilliant rapport with her sound tech and the astounding musical numbers, there is barely a pause in the 60 minutes, which felt like 20. Nadia Kamil gives a face and a voice (a Welsh-Iraqi one, another dichotomy) to contemporary feminism.
The Stand III & IV, 558 7272, until 25 Aug (not 12), 3.30pm, £7 (£6).