Theatre Review: Everything I See I Swallow, Summerhall - Demonstration Room, Edinburgh

Tamsin Shasha and Maisy Taylor in the beautifully performed Everything I See I Swallow
Tamsin Shasha and Maisy Taylor in the beautifully performed Everything I See I Swallow
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Ever since she was a child, Olivia (Maisy Taylor) has been told she is beautiful. Quickly, she learned to see beauty as belonging to the beholder and grew up feeling her body was not her own.

She began to reclaim it by practising shibari, the erotic Japanese art of rope bondage, and quickly amassed 50,000 followers on Instagram.

No-one is more shocked than her mother (Tamsin Shasha), an art curator and old-school feminist who chained herself to the railings at Greenham Common, read Wollstonecraft and de Beauvoir and fought her way up in an overwhelmingly male profession.

She seems appalled in equal measure at the risks Olivia is taking with her body and the way she appears to have capitulated to patriarchy. What use, she asks, was banging one’s head against the glass ceiling when the younger generation is “wallowing around taking selfies”?

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Aerial work is blended fluidly into the show, a metaphor for the risks Olivia enjoys taking in childhood – sparking every protective impulse in her mother’s body, and later as the choreography for their arguments.

Taylor, a graduate in circus arts, has a weightless fluency in the air, making it look like a place of freedom and privacy as well as of performance.

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Written by Taylor and Shasha (who is the acclaimed artistic director of the company Actors of Dionysus) and directed by Helen Tennison, Everything I See I Swallow is a study of shifting attitudes to female empowerment and sexuality.

Both Olivia and her mother invoke their ideological heroines, from Angela Carter and Orlan to Caitlin Moran and Beyoncé.

It is also a reflection of the age-old story of the power struggle between generations as each tries to understand the other, beautifully illustrated by aerial performance by both actors.

Until 25 August. Today 6pm. ****

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