Sunday, September 2, 2012

Unlimited Day 2: In Water I'm Weightless and Mat Fraser's Criptease Unlimited

On Friday I saw two amazing things at the Unlimited: Kaite O'Reilly's play 'In Water I'm Weightless' and 'Criptease Unlimited', which had Mat Fraser and other disabled people undress and do burlesque performances. I was very pleased that both things had Mat Fraser in it, so I was in fangirl-mode all night.
My review for Criptease is up on Disability Arts Online, an online journal, and you can read it here. below is my review of 'In Water I'm Weightless'. 

'In Water I'm Weightless' starts off like a fashion show. Pounding music and bright lights is the backdrop as the five actors enter the stage in elaborate gowns, suits and striking headpieces. The characters take turns in shouting at the audience, shouting that we are all the same, we are all mortal. After this impressive beginning, 'In Water I'm Weightless' goes on to explore how the story of the five characters overlaps, and how it overlaps with everyone's story.
The characters go through moments when they are dancing and celebrating. But they also go through passages where they are sad, angry or struggling. Many scenes shift from one emotion into another, for example when Sophie Stone does a scene entitled 'things I have lip-read. The ablist, and often sexist quotes her character has lip-read are deeply unsettling. Her reaction to them, however, and the obvious fact that her character is not anything like the quiet, submissive deaf girl men assume her to be, create a lot of humour and laughter.

Sophie Stone in In Water I'm Weightless
 Kaite O'Reilly, who wrote 'In Water I'm Weightless', has created a piece that is fragmented and mostly consists of monologues, but also tells a captivating story. The characters are constantly frustrated with the way the medical profession and society try to govern their lives and their bodies, and manage to escape this control for short periods, in which they express themselves through music and fascinating dance performances. Some of those sections have a very sexual feel to them. This sexuality is celebrated tenderly through the performers' movements and stands in opposition to the objectification of their bodies by doctors and authorities.
The characters express the tension between the way they are seen and the way they see themselves. However, the play manages to transcend the idea that only disabled people have to deal with this tension and instead, 'In Water I'm Weightless' shows a wide rainbow of emotions that are universal and left me deeply unsettled, in a good way.

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