Trilogy **1/2

Nic Green: Trilogy, just might be the most well-intentioned misfire playing at this year’s Fringe.  Meant to be a three-part celebration of femininity, it instead comes across as an over-long and slightly self-indulgent production that has little to do with equality and more with creating multiple excuses for women to appear nude onstage.

There are some genuinely good ideas at play.  Part one is a twenty-minute performance that’s meant as a passionate celebration of the female body but only comes across at best as fun and pleasant.  Part two is a horribly misguided reinterpretation of a famed debate on ‘women’s lib’ from 1971, which is consistently upstaged by projected clips from the actual debate.  Part three is the most successful section, a look at the ‘Her-story’ campaign and some brutal truths of how women are treated in the present, all underpinned by the song Jerusalem.

No matter what one thinks of this production, the skill and charm of creator Nic Green and her company cannot be denied.  Everything is brilliantly rehearsed and executed, from complicated dance routines to choral line recitals.  Large chunks of the production are segments that require the company to speak to, and sometimes with, the audience.  These always come across as warm, kind and intelligent.

But at nearly three hours in length, I have to question the point of it all.  Though everything is slickly produced, there isn’t one truly original idea.  In fact, it feels as if this is a production that is simply preaching to the converted.  It isn’t going to change anyone’s opinions or ideas, and it never manages to challenge any long-held notions of inequality.  It certainly doesn’t further the cause of ‘feminism’, though it feels like it exists solely because of the hard work of past feminists.

The nakedness is also so constant that it feels more like a gimmick than a necessary production element.  True, many women in the first and third acts have come onstage naked, and if only one woman has slightly benefitted from such an action, then this is to be commended and celebrated.  But this act is of a personal triumph and not an artistic necessity.  The nakedness is never juxtaposed to anything, such as modern beliefs of so-called appropriate female body images; thus such choices really have little artistic merit (as well-intentioned and confidence-building as such actions may be) and relevance .

In the end, Trilogy feels like a complete waste.  A waste of great talent.  A waste of great ideas.  A waste of the potential to look at the way women are treated in society NOW and actively question: have we come any further?  There is no answer supplied, there is no real thematic development and there is little coherence to the production as a whole; there are only scores of women who stand onstage naked for different reasons.  They certainly have that right, and I applaud any action that shatters any stigma one might feel towards the female body.  I am glad that this production is out there, but strictly from a dramaturgical point of view it left me a bit cold.

Originally written for Onstage Scotland.

Run at the Arches @ St. Stephens is complete.

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