As someone who walks the streets often hearing the echoes of ‘alright love’, flattered was the perfect choice for the Fringe. The play that addresses public harassment towards women had all the elements to make a strong statement, but sadly needed to probe the subject matter more intensely.
flattered tells us stories, which unfortunately, are tales as old as time. On the way back from school, in a pub or bar or club, harassment can happen anywhere. Three women, who live on the street, show us glimpses of the things that have happened in their local place. It evidences the behaviour of the people, the atmosphere on the street and the situations these women are faced with.
The set up and concept for flattered is sound. Three women sharing experiences, varying from conversations with people they knew that threw in the odd questionable term to actual sexual assault in a night club, told through a pacey three-handed script that works well for this kind of storytelling.
The three actresses involved, Scarlet Simmons, Lucy Fourges and Katie Cogswell, perform the piece beautifully. As a trio they carefully and consciously portray the different roles with brilliant physicality. The moments that use the ‘voice of the man’ sometimes technically slow their momentum. Furthermore the single spot that lights the round space often blinds and for a piece that’s focus is the impact on women, you struggle to catch the emotion on their faces.
The play questions the fine line between what is ok and what some men believe is ok, and I was starting to get into the piece and then it was over, with little discussion on how the women truly felt about what they’d been through. The final moments picture the three, hungover and confused, talking to a guy who stood by and watched a man touch them, letting it happen. They merely tell him they are fine and quickly ponder what should have happened. I wanted to hear more.
I didn’t connect to the piece as much as I wanted to for someone who experiences this. It simply doesn’t delve deep enough into the emotional effect that constant cat-calling can have. It does touch on issues that need addressing – what happens when a few unwanted comments turn into sexual assault – but it seems more of a presentation of what can happen rather than an emotionally charged piece of art standing up for women who deserve better.
I’d love to see this piece again after maybe another workshop that digs a little deeper into the emotional sensitivities that come from this behaviour. Everything else hits the mark but in light of Me Too, it needed to shift more focus on to how these talented actresses portray the embarrassment and discomfort that comes from cat-calling and eventual sexual assault.
flattered is at Fireside – The Last Arch Theatre as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 25 August. Tickets available online.
My Edinburgh trip was supported by the Network of Independent Critics! Find out more about their work here.