- Lorna Irvine
- 9 August 2017
Monica Dolan's potent one-woman show explores the sexualisation of young girls
Writer and performer Monica Dolan has crafted something wonderful here. She plays Tessa, a psychologist, relaying a heart-rending story of her case study, Karen. All fake tan and vertiginous heels, Karen has an eight-year-old daughter, Lyla, who is seeking affirmation from men through dancing like Rihanna in front of them, and who becomes subject of a media storm when she demands, and is then given, breast implants by her mother.
Dolan is superb, bringing heart and depth to a very modern taboo – that of the pernicious nature of branding for 'tweens', and the awareness at an increasingly young age of the power of sexual currency. Tessa, facing her own health battles, struggles to reconcile impartial empathy with Karen, totem of the must-have culture, with her own views. The recent rows around public breast-feeding are explored, as well as the worrying trends for certain tabloids to 'count down' to young female stars' 16th birthdays – Harry Potter star Emma Watson being a case in point.
It's testament to the subtlety of the writing and performance that this is never presented in a hand-wringing or overwrought way. Tessa's quiet rage is interrupted by her Cagney and Lacey ringtone throughout, and she is a flawed but compassionate woman. There are no easy answers presented in this coruscating, powerful monologue which will provoke much debate.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 27 Aug (not 14), 6pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10).