Theatre review: Collective Rage
DIVA publisher Linda Riley on the funny and thought provoking production by Jen Silverman
Genesis Lynea as Betty Five in Collective Rage
When a play featuring five strong women, at least four of whom fall somewhere on the queer spectrum, arrives in London from a successful run in New York, I couldn’t resist going along.
Jen Silverman’s Collective Rage is the angry, feminist bastard-child of Sarah Jessica Parker’s privileged-white-women-with-first-world-problems sitcom Sex And The City.
Where SJP and her really-quite-annoying pals agonised over which rich white man to sleep with next, Silverman’s women - all called Betty - represent a kaleidoscope of privilege and disadvantage, from masc, gender-queer Betty Five right up to the brittle bottle blonde Betty One.
Betties Two, Three and Four complete the quintet: a salt-of-the earth woman with feelings for her bestie, a fame-hungry bisexual actress and, my personal favourite; vagina-obsessed, Barbie-lite Betty Two who Silverman sends on a quite extraordinary emotional journey. I particularly enjoyed the mature and accomplished Lucy McCormick, whose assured, energetic performance marks her out as one to watch.
Silverman manages to avoid cliché in this dangerous exploration of intersectional feminist identity, queer politics and - yes - rage, pulling off the impressive trick of creating five very different, but totally recognisable characters all within 90 minutes.
Sexy, moving and unafraid to push the boundaries, this tightly-directed production was both funny and thought-provoking. Director Charlie Parham and producer Emma Hall should be congratulated on a slick, inventive production, which is well worth a visit.
Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties, is at the Southwark Playhouse, London, until 17 February.
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