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Peeling- A Review

March 15, 2019

Alfa, Beaty and Coral are three deaf and disabled performers taking part in the chorus of a grandly titled four-hour postmodern epic, The Trojan Women: Then and Now. We watch while they sit and wait for their cues, talking, gossiping and exchanging confidences. Paused in the shadows while the “real actors continue with the real play”, they are defined and limited by the actions and designs of men, who are always offstage, elsewhere.

Elise Davison’s revival of Kaite O’Reilly’s play, originally staged in 2002, is fiercely clever and uncompromising. It packs in far more rhetorical audacity, theatrical richness and complexity of ideas than its 90-minute length would suggest. Often scathingly funny, Peeling is an accessible production that provocatively questions what is being made accessible, for whom and how. Who benefits from including a deaf and disabled ensemble, if the dressing rooms are inaccessible?

Initially appearing in Angharad Gamble’s vulva-embroidered ball gowns, Bea Webster, Ruth Curtis and Steph Lacey as Alfa, Beaty, and Coral respectively – all excellent – remain onstage throughout, shadowed by Erin Hutching as the stage manager who translates the trio’s spoken dialogue into British Sign Language. The dresses in turn are removed, but the peeling of the title also alludes to other forms of disrobing: of character, theatrical conventions, of the personal and societal expectations of disabled women. Towards its conclusion, one senses that history itself is also unravelling. We are brought to our current historical moment, laden with horrors. The grandiose “then and now” appears to be depressingly apt.

Produced by Taking Flight Theatre, who have been staging accessible productions in Wales for 10 years, Peeling is a show that insists it be viewed on its own terms. The peeling is not for your titillation. It sticks a middle finger up at paternalistic and woolly tick-box exercises in representation and inclusivity. Accessible theatre? Do it properly, it demands. Do it like this.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Carolyn Mellor permalink
    March 15, 2019 12:45 pm

    No mention of where and when to see this – basic information that is usually included in any review.

    • March 15, 2019 3:58 pm

      Samediff missed this bit at the bottom…

      >”At Theatr Clwyd, Mold, on 19 and 20 March. Then touring until 2 May.”

      I used to know someone who works in Theatr Clwyd. Unison union scumbag, in total denial that the DWP/WCA do any harm at all.

      Theatr Clwyd – Labour Council owned. Labour Government funded. Full of disabled hating Unison vermin.

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