Dr Carnesky's Incredible Bleeding Woman
- Gareth K Vile
- 6 August 2017
This article is from 2017.
A journey into a lost past, an alienated nature and a future reconciliation
Dr Carnesky may play ironically with her academic credentials – her activist cabaret is framed by a humorous lecture that roves across matters menstrual and magical – but Dr Carnesky's Incredible Bleeding Woman is a serious reclamation of female power. Introducing her 'menstruants' and ancient mythologies that celebrated, rather than abhorred, the female cycle, Dr Carnesky uses wit and intelligence to identify menstruation as a connection between the human and the natural world.
The menstruants themselves are part cabaret performers, part pagan high priestess. Their ritualistic routines draw on aerialism, Japanese performance, sword swallowing and body art to demonstrate the meanings of menstruation. From Dr Carnesky's lecture, the atmosphere gradually becomes more intense: the woman-sawn-in-half magic trick is reversed, and female physical strength and endurance is expressed before the symbolic finale presents a bloody and spectacular triumph of the feminine.
Even while rigid notions of biological gender are challenged, Dr Carnesky's Incredible Woman revels in the bodily, the sensual and the remarkable: its ecological message insisting that the shame and horror directed at the menses parallels a broader human disconnection from the environment. Measured yet passionate, revealing yet never descending into crudeness, Dr Carnesky's prescription unearths hidden histories to release a potent brew of magical empowerment.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug (not 9 and 21), 2pm, £8–£10 (£7–£9).