Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Jury's Inn Jeffrey Street, 7 August - Working Girls

This was a student production by five women from Bishop Grosseteste University College near Lincoln. As Temptation Theatre they wrote, directed and acted in it. It was a slightly disorienting mixture of drama, dance and (recorded) music, exploring the subject of prostitution. The initial idea came from third-year student Michelle Glass as part of her course work. "We had to choose a topic that would be a bit different and I was interested in doing something about prostitution after the Ipswich murders in 2006" she has said. The play focuses on the lives of five young sex workers and dares us to judge them or steroetype them. One became a prostitute to feed a drug habit; one because it was what her mother and sister had done before her; one used the job as a way of gaining temporary power over men, revenging herself on them by humiliating them; one did it because she was a nymphomaniac who couldn't live without constant sexual variety; and the last had been left as the sole provider for her family when her single mother became too ill to work. Their stories are based on real testimonies from the English Collectve of Prostitutes, and are by turns moving and funny.

The evening started very slowly: indeed I was beginning to wonder whether this was going to be purely a dance event when the speaking began. For the most part I didn't feel greatly challenged: the only story which really stirred the emotions was the last of the five, where the fear and self-loathing of a 15-year-old girl driven by poverty to sell herself for the first time came across very strongly. But the final segment, where all the girls combined to point up the lack of sympathy that sex workers experience when they are raped, whether in the course of business or not, did bring me up short. Especially the description of a rape survived with only minor injuries as a "lucky escape".

Not a patch, then, on the film of the same name by Lizzie Borden, but not bad all the same. And not badly attended.