Theatre review: Mouthpiece

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Acclaimed by many as one of the most exciting events on the Fringe, and described by Jodie Foster as creating “a new kind of feminist language” for theatre, Mouthpiece is a new show from Toronto-based company Quote Unquote Collective that swerves between the fascinating and the infuriating, as it recycles some pretty basic thoughts about feminism in mind-blowing 21st century style.

Canada Hub @ King’s Hall (Venue 73)

****

The show is a 60-minute monologue in words, movement and vocal sound delivered by two writer-performers – Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava – who both play the same character, a Toronto-based writer of 30 or so who wakes up on the morning after her mother’s death both furious and confused. She spends a lot of time in the bath, and even more hiding from the world, notably in a coffin at the undertaker’s when she is supposed to be choosing a casket; and she seems to feel that her sarcastic rage against the world is both interesting and reasonable, as she remembers a woman who – oddly, for the generation who reached adulthood in the 1970s – seems, so far as her daughter is concerned, to have spent her life being mainly decorative and housewifely.

The problem is that, as the text eventually acknowledges, this central character is obviously living a privileged and fortunate life, and her rage is therefore as unattractive as it is unexplained; the fact that her aunties would like her to marry and have children hardly cuts it, on the scale of world problems. Yet despite some infuriating self-indulgence, and too many poor caricatures of allegedly non-feminist characters, the combination of movement and brilliant voice work produced by Nostbakken and Sadava can be unforgettable; and at its best, seems to speak for a generation, in a unique female voice that ranges from submissive Marilyn Monroe whisper to raging feminist thunder, sometimes in a single sentence.

Until 27 August. Today 1:30pm.