Becoming the Invisible Woman
Drayton Arms Theatre
According to the UK Census of 2010, there were more females than males in the population, but you wouldn’t know that from the representation of women in the media, in the judiciary, in practically any institution. Women must have become invisible.
Sarah Wanendeya’s gentle play explores the experience of invisibility in one woman. The first section is an amusing awakening and examination of what it’s like to discover you have become a middle-aged woman.
The second section has the same woman reflecting briefly on moments in her life when she felt free and then expressing a determination to make middle age, a creative and satisfying experience.
The show opens with a figure suddenly popping out of a mound of clean, dry washing. Looking dazed, she immediately starts to fold the clothes neatly into a basket.
Her age 48 appears on her dressing gown. Around her waist there is a chain. That chain will prevent her first attempt to move away from the washing.
A chorus of middle-aged women enter in white lab coats, carrying clipboards on which are a series of questions about the way she sees herself, the way she feels, the way she is treated.
Her answers reveal an absence of treatment as if with age she had become less useful, less significant. She tells the chorus, “I felt censored, suffocating… a shrunken version of myself.”
In the second section, she recalls special moments, when she felt free dancing to the music of The Fall aged 14, dancing at university in Manchester to house music at age 18. They were times when youth culture gave her a sense of belonging.
Despite regarding her middle-aged self as “flabbier” in mind and body, she tells us she is determined to have a more creative life as an actor.
The fifty-minute play often edges into the sentimental and never really challenges the society that continues to imprison and misrepresent women. But the mood is hopeful, encouraging. The language is always engaging, sometimes with a poetic tilt. This is a positive uplifting story of a woman’s determination to shape her own life.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna