Woman Who Wank

Mon 4th – Sun 24th August 2014

reviews

Fergus Morgan

at 03:57 on 20th Aug 2014

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Performed in a nondescript basement bar beneath a nondescript city restaurant, Women Who Wank is a one-woman improvised show in which Joanne Tremarco displays genuine wit and intelligence, in addition to the rare ability to put a participating audience at ease without sacrificing the edginess of her material.

All preconceptions of theatrical boundaries must be foregone, as Tremarco spends the majority of the show flitting between the rows, sitting next to and chatting with audience members, even at one point massaging their feet. Refreshingly, this is done entirely devoid of cheap modernist techniques and after an initial period of uneasiness, the engaging nature of Tremarco’s performance, particularly her razor-sharp wit, alleviates any lingering discomfort.

With laudable effort, Tremarco remains in character for the duration, even when faced with particularly challenging moments of audience interaction. She embodies a hunch-shouldered, hand-wringing female in a performance energetic to the point of erraticism. She is brilliantly physically dynamic throughout, both facially and corporeally, creating a captivating magnetism that holds those watching rapt. Somewhat unexpectedly, for all the bizarre nuances of her performance she manages to endear herself to the audience through the fundamental humanity of her character.

Primarily, this is a show about sex. Throughout, Tremarco repeatedly draws the focus of the piece back to the male and female sexual organs, frequently impersonating both with surprising veracity. She asks the audience about their own sexual experiences without hesitation, and it is testament to her intuitive sensitivity that such questions soon lose their intimidatory stigma whilst retaining the essential humour of their imagined impropriety.

Carnal appetite and the stifling of it, sexual conflict and the sheer absurdity of it, and society’s shameful inability to talk openly about such matters are all common themes of her material, and she addresses them with stimulating originality.

Although a large proportion of her show is undoubtedly improvised from her discussion with audience members, one feels that several routines are, if not rehearsed, then at least prepared beforehand. An extended impersonation of Mary Magdelen teaching sex education to teenagers is particularly memorable, as are many of her more thought-provoking questions about the audience’s sexual activities and proclivities.

Women Who Wank is a genuinely remarkable piece of theatre, both for its thought-provoking content and for the originality with which said content is presented. Tremarco is utterly captivating.

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Alex Woolley

at 10:31 on 20th Aug 2014

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I have had to write this review without the aid of the extensive, comprehensive, and all-round excellent notes that I habitually make during the course of a play. There were thirteen people in Cloud & Soil bar watching Joanne Tremarco’s one-woman improvised show Women who Wank, and it became obvious about ten minutes in that none of us was going to escape audience interaction. As the name of the show implies, this was not about to be some half-arsed what’s-your-name-where-dya-come-from-oh-isn’t-Paisley-pretty spiel. So, not wanting to be ripped to shreds, I hid my notebook under my chair when Tremarco had her back turned.

It didn’t work. When the inevitable interaction came my way, Tremarco quickly blew my cover. I was offered a high chair, I put my feet on it, and she masturbated them – as much as feet can be masturbated. Much to my disappointment, when she suggested inserting my feet into her (or possibly inserting her feet into me), to which I agreed, she did not go through with the idea, and went off to molest someone else.

Women who Wank lasted around an hour, and it was full of these sorts of assaults on the audience, plus a few other, presumably pre-prepared, sketches. Unsurprisingly, the themes that predominated were sex, gender relations, and genitals. Everything was hilarious; everything was disconcerting.

Tremarco did an excellent job of maintaining the highly wrought character she presented – which was somewhere between a witch, a porn star, and an everyday woman. Nothing appeared to phase her. No matter how or with what the audience responded, Tremarco always one-upped them, producing come-backs that were raucously hilarious and frequently unsettling. The material that seemed pre-prepared was equally excellent. Her sketch of cave-painting penises, for instance, had the audience in stitches.

Perhaps surprisingly, Women who Wank wore its politics lightly. There was no great tirade against the problems faced by women, or their genitals. Tremarco restricted herself to creating a piece of theatre, and that was no bad thing.

You won’t see a show like this done in many other parts of the world. Go to Women who Wank before you leave Edinburgh. Whether you end up liking the show, or just being disturbed by it, your Fringe experience will hardly be complete without it.

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