Combining a poignant and thought-provoking script with incredible aerial choreography, EVERYTHING I SEE I SWALLOW is a stark examination of modern feminism
EVERYTHING I SEE I SWALLOW is a stark examination of feminism through the lens of two generations. When a fiercely feminist mother (Tamsin Shasha) finds that her daughter (Maisy Taylor) has begun an art project, posting photos of herself bound and naked to her 50,000 followers, she claims that her daughter is being exploited and objectified. The piece tries to find the line between empowerment and exploitation, art and pornography.
The show begins with Taylor, bound in the Japanese art of Shibari, almost naked, bound and suspended above the stage. It’s quite mesmerising to see. She unties herself, performing a monologue about her character’s (Olivia) childhood and how she felt her beauty wasn’t her own. When she is completely freed, she seems more exposed and vulnerable than when she was bound. Her nudity seems like less of a choice now, and here is where the line between expression and exploitation can be found.
Olivia argues with her mother about her art constantly, as her mother sees it as pornographic, rather than Olivia freely exploring her body and sexuality. She hates the idea of men leering over her daughter, despite it being Olivia’s choice to upload the pictures. The piece explores the generational differences in feminism, with Shasha’s character portraying the classic 1980s feminist, chaining herself to the railings at Greenham Common. Olivia, on the other hand, takes a more modern approach, exploring her sexuality, addressing everyday sexism and the way she was objectified all throughout her life and made to feel as though her body was not her own. They argue, quoting poignant, thought-provoking words, addressing everything from how women should own their bodies, to the fact that art that does not make you uncomfortable “is simply decoration.”
Perhaps one of the most effective segments has the two women arguing while performing nerve-wracking aerial choreography. It really makes you consider the strength of these women, both literal and figurative. The physical strength and skill this performance takes is incredible, with both performers taking on gorgeous aerial work to enhance the piece. Both have beautiful solo routines, but it’s when they work together that the performance really excels.
A combination of projection and spoken word also brings the piece together. Though the piece was also written and devised by Taylor and Shasha, their acting seems a little disconnected at first, although they both warm into it, it’s the physical theatre that shines. Director Helen Tennison has a varied background in all aspects of theatre and was also involved in the devising process, and it’s obvious a lot of work has gone into developing the relationships between the characters.
This piece began performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year and was still in development at this time. The piece does still have an “unfinished” feel to it. This feels like it can always be growing and changing with the times.
Overall, this is an interesting examination of modern feminism from both perspectives, and also sparks the common debate “what is art?” and what is the difference between art and pornography? Combined with the incredible aerial skills of these performers, it all comes together to create a beautiful performance.
EVERYTHING I SEE I SWALLOW runs at The Lowry, Salford until 12 September 2019.
Lucy is a nineteen-year-old aspiring actress from Glossop. She is currently studying Music Theatre at the University Of Central Lancashire and hopes to move onto a career in performance. She also has interests in reading, writing and music.