Photo – Darren Gill
If you’ve ever wondered what women really do behind closed doors, then look no further than Thigh Gap. Jamaica Zuanetti’s absurdist comedy is an uncomfortably relatable production, in which two 20 something women reveal all the “secret women’s business” the ladies have been concealing.
Directed by Alice Darling, Thigh Gap looks at the many conflicting messages women receive and how they are controlled via the media’s perception of the “ideal”. From having the perfect figure to achieving career success, financial freedom and cellulite free thighs, women remain under the staunch supervision and control of the patriarchy.
Confined to their pristine pink box, Sophie Woodward’s pastel set wrapped in pink paper is the perfect metaphor for this production. Pretty, saccharine sweet and completely absurd, Thigh Gap is an honest commentary on the rules western society continues to place on women. It makes the valid point that although women are no longer bound by the restricting laces of a corset, or expected to be baby making machines, current day feminine aspirations and expectations are just as limited.
The relationship between the two flat mates Gemma (Lauren Mass) and Iris (Veronica Thomas) moves from amicable strangers, to friendship, to competitors, to outright delirium. At times I wondered if one character was actually a projection of the other’s psyche, and that this entirely bizarre scenario was the rambling imaginations of a madwoman.
It’s a difficult production to stage, neither character leaves the space, and the constant scene shifts through lighting changes and pop music, never allow for much development of the characters. It appears that the audience only receives snap shots of the lives of the characters, leaving it up to their discretion to fill in the gaps. It is somewhat jarring at times as it feels like substantial scenes are cut short as the characters are whisked off to the next moment in time.
Mass does a wonderful job of playing the effervescent Gemma and brings nuanced and careful consideration to the role. Thomas moves from cynically predisposed artist to clinically starving artist with the neurotic energy of a Richard Simmons workout video.
It took some time for this piece to warm up and as the plot line became more twisted and absurd the more oddly recognizable it was. Constantly interrupted by their phones, laptops and the never-ending list of television to watch. Gemma and Iris dissolve into madness, giving in to the constant and often conflicting messages to buy more, be less, stay wrapped up in your pretty pink box and you’ll be safe.
Thigh Gap challenges these messages in this oddball comedy that is part Odd Couple and part Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Ted Talk that will make you laugh and think, and shake your head at the ridiculous rules women try to live by. Take your girlfriends, they’ll understand all too well. And, boys, check it out, while it may be a heightened version of “secret women’s business”, scarily it’s not that far off the truth.
La Mama presents
by Jamaica Zuanetti
Director Alice Darling
Venue: La Mama | 349 Drummond Street Carlton VIC
Dates: 30 October – 10 November 2019