Visceral one-woman show about femininity, sexuality and primal impulses
Hyena is a one-woman show that explores female identity, intimacy and vulnerability. New York-based writer and actor Romana Soutus combines monologues and physical performance with elements of grotesque in a raw and at times uncomfortable show.
Hy, the literal beast within, first appears locked in a dog kennel and wearing only undergarments, instantly creating an intense and unsettling atmosphere. As she gets dressed and confronts the audience, heels and clothes become means to questioning gender stereotypes and primal impulses. This process is facilitated by the precise direction, which subtly changes Hy's looks from a mythical beast to an everyday character.
Hyena starts strong but loses momentum by trying and failing to properly address a wide range of topics like sexism, victim blaming, taboos, self-esteem and self-harm - to name just a few. There are many and often unnecessary props which only reinforce stereotypical symbolism: white flowers, underwear and dress that over the course of the performance are stained red by watermelon and berries.
Soutus has a tendency to over-act, but during the quieter monologues proves she is a talented performer. Her skilful delivery reveals the beautiful and poetic writing of those scenes, and makes Hyena a thought-provoking discussion on female identity.
Paradise in The Vault, run ended.