A bold look at exploitation in which the content overburdens the structure
This article is from 2016.
Following the journey of a single woman from the excitement of 1970s Nigeria through to a club toilet in contemporary Glasgow, Adura Onashile's ambitious show exposes the consistency of female exploitation. While her years in the encampment of Fela Kuti appear to have been liberating, and her employment in Glasgow a bitter compromise, Expensive Shit's heroine remains at the mercy of male power.
The four cast members leap between energetic recollections and mundane modern clubbing. Dynamic ensemble acting, and lively routines to Fela Kuti's raw funk work-outs, keeps the action fresh and the pace rapid. Onashile's direction is taut and the design – suggestive of Glasgow's notorious Shimmy Club, where men paid to observe women in the toilets – encases the cast in a prison as subtle as the power structures that control them.
Yet the weight of the subject is not supported by the structure of the show: the repetitive back and forth between eras is predictable, and the shifts in emotional tone are erratic. While the show heralds Onashile's thoughtful and powerful theatrical voice, it lacks a degree of focus. Nevertheless, Expensive Shit is a bracing and subtle polemic with a twist in the tale.
Traverse, until 28 Aug (not 15, 22), times vary, £18.50 (£8.50–£13.50).