Sirens (4 stars)

This article is from 2014

*1 Sirens =

Ontroerend Goed's symphony of female rage, performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, is impossible to ignore

If previous Summerhall favourite Silvia Gallerano's La Merda was a personal howl of anguish, Ontroerend Goed's Sirens is the symphonic rage of Everywoman.

Using humour, song and a guttural roar rising to a blood-curdling scream, six women in evening dress (Verona Verbakel, Charlotte de Bruyne, Aurelie Lannoy, Anemone Valcke, Karolien de Bleser and Marjan Deschutter) address everyday accounts of misogyny, examining the patriarchal system with endemic feminine conditioning from the start. It's akin to Ariel Levy's book Female Chauvinist Pigs, a scrutiny of women attacking women, or the Hollaback internet campaign, which encourages women to share experiences of street harassment.

From pornography to 'anti-ageing' face cream, slut shaming to female genital mutilation, the targets are relentless, and the performance completely unflinching. A brief segment collates the most offensively sexist 'jokes', which start with mother-in-law and end in rape and domestic violence.

Individual testimonies from the amazing cast, ranging from remarks on pregnancy to groping by uncles, are stomach churning yet horribly prosaic.

That so many in the audience feel a shudder of recognition is definitely the most shocking factor, however. Sirens is the ultimate wake-up call: shrill, and impossible to ignore.

Summerhall, 0845 874 3001, until Aug 24 (not 18), 8.30pm, £8–£12.50 (£11).


  • 4 stars

Ontroerend Goed, Drum-Plymouth, Vooruit, Richard Jordan, Big in Belgium, Summerhall We are the weaker sex. We’re goddesses, muses, amazons and warrior queens. We can’t control our feelings. We bleed once a month, because we deserve it. We cry, sulk and suffer inexplicable mood swings. We’re little princesses. We need a…