Theatre Review: Bullet Hole, Park Theatre, Finsbury Park
PUBLISHED: 12:00 10 October 2018
Powerful story of Female Genital Mutilation puts audiences on a 90 minute rollercoaster of emotion
The theme of this play is so powerful and yet so private, the actors so passionate, that the audience is on an emotional roller-coaster for the whole ninety minutes.
Female Genital Mutilation is cruel and destructive and yet deeply embedded in the culture of some communities.
So, perhaps it is time that theatre tackled this uniquely complex and sensitive subject. Clearly, it is, at one level, yet another method of keeping women in their place.
But it goes far deeper. Gloria Williams, the writer, explains and explores the cultural, emotional and political implications while narrating a gripping story.
Cleo, movingly played by the writer herself, received, at the age of seven, the “gift” of type three genital mutilation.
This causes enduring pain and negatively affects almost every aspect of her life. Torn apart, mentally and emotionally as well as physically, she wants to have a reversal.
She is sent, together with Eve, another F.G.M. survivor, to stay with Aunt Winnie, an older woman who is happily adjusted to this cultural practice - although Anni Domingo’s nuanced performance makes it clear that she also has been damaged by the process.
Eve (Doreene Blackstock) is a gentler personality, sympathetic towards Cleo, and more accepting of traditional feminine roles.
But is she strong enough to combat the forces ranged against them? Or will she convince Cleo to accept her fate?
Director, Lara Genovese, presents a fast-paced and absorbing production, which never flags. Although more could have been made, for instance, of the powerful symbolism which haunts the play – particularly in relation to Eve’s sensuous relation to textiles and sewing. And, bearing in mind that some of the speech patterns are unfamiliar to many, it would have been helpful if the early scenes were taken more slowly to give the audience a chance “tune in”