Theatre review: Blush

Blush - Underbelly
Blush - Underbelly
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Fleshed out by two performers, a cast of five characters swim upstream against the overwhelming tide of online communication in the hands of those who don’t know how to use it; specifically those whose social conditioning allows unhealthy attitudes towards women to fester and become toxic.

Star rating: ****

Venue: Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61)

As this new piece from writer Charlotte Josephine and Snuff Box Theatre (the team behind Bitch Boxer) shows, those who make their dysfunctional views public on social networks don’t always fit into easy stereotypes.

Josephine herself and Daniel Foxsmith flit between characters.

An 18-year-old girl finds that compromising pictures of her have been placed on the internet after a boyfriend shared them with friends, and now her sense of self and safety has been violently disrupted. Her older sister can’t contain her impotent fury and unease, recoiling at boorish builders and questioning her boyfriend’s motives (“I’m not upset, I’m angry!” she spits, and the biting truth of this reaction permeates the play).

A loving father and husband falls deeper into a sinkhole of online porn, and a successful tech entrepreneur inadvertently starts a misogynist witch hunt against a woman online.

Both actors are electrifying under Ed Stambollouian’s direction, their performances vigorously physical and their inhabitation of the characters pin sharp. On occasion it’s hard to keep up, so rapid are their changes, but that aesthetic fits with the sense of online overload they deftly build under the glare of interrogating photographic lamps.

Throughout, the women are victims of society’s view of them and the men are not much more than dumb stooges, indoctrinated themselves by objectified images of women’s bodies and by easy access to porn.

Yet the difference is in the third female character, who feels spurned by a lover and gleefully shares online pictures of his penis, leading to the near loss of her job.

It’s a punishment not inflicted upon the men, who are permitted space for contrition, building a pitch-perfect illustration of the implicit selectivity of male privilege.

Until 28 August. Today 6pm.

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