Loud, messy and gloriously funny, I Have a Mouth and I Will Scream at this year’s VAULT Festival is a raucous exploration of what it means to be a woman today.
“I am tired of making sense. Of being significant in a designated space” begins Abi Zakarian’s uproarious production of I Have a Mouth and I Will Scream. The performance is a brilliantly frenzied patchwork which attempts to ‘address every feminist issue in the space of sixty minutes’. No mean feat, but one which the cast and director Rafaella Marcus take at full pelt. These women will not be politely holding their tongues any longer.
The cast of six – who bring just as much zeal to the choral moments as they do to solo sketches – are calling for a revolution, and examining everything from aging (‘something we must never do’), to intersectionality and deep dark Sean Bean sex fantasies. Comedy is abound and the show is constantly finding ways of poking fun and digging under the nails of the institutions and norms we’ve been pacified to. The cast twerk their way through Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda, reveal bridal dreams of being a princess for a day ‘BECAUSE I’M SPECIAL’ and play out a particularly brilliant sketch raising an eyebrow at macho detective shows. Prime time fodder which keeps finding ways to shoehorn in evermore lingering panning shots of their naked, miraculously beautiful, very dead victims.
The performance deals with the more sinister side of the patriarchy: sexual assault and rape jokes both come into their crosshairs. But by far the most revitalising thing about I Have a Mouth and I Will Scream is that it doesn’t pretend to have any of the answers. And it doesn’t back away from the often untidy question of ‘fuck am I a bad feminist? Am I getting this wrong?’.
While mostly keeping up the hundred mile an hour sprint, the energy dips a little towards the end of the play with a false ending meaning the final minutes didn’t quite pack the punky punch I was hungering for. With this said, Zakarian’s biting protest piece has me convinced.
I Have a Mouth and I Will Scream can’t provide you with any tidy solutions or quick fixes to the daily business of being a woman; it demands that you stand up, stop being polite and – yes – scream. ‘If chaos ensues then this is marvellous’ cries out the ‘womanifesto’ thrown into the audience at the end of the play. And chaos there is. The hour runs like a freight train, brakes off, hurtling to a precipice and no you damn well can’t get off.