…That’s What She Said

Out The Attic
Out The Attic
The Empty Space, Salford

…That’s What She Said Credit: Louis Barabbas
…That’s What She Said Credit: Louis Barabbas
…That’s What She Said Credit: Louis Barabbas
…That’s What She Said Credit: Louis Barabbas

The phrase …That’s What She Said is often used as an add-on to turn an innocent remark into a slightly smutty joke. Out The Attic reclaim the remark giving women the chance to have their say in a verbatim theatre piece based on the real life experiences of the cast and creative team.

Typical of their approach, the play both celebrates, and challenges the perception of, the hedonistic ritual of friends going on holiday in Ibiza. Half a dozen female millennials of different races, social background and sexual identity head off on holiday and bond over their shared musical preferences and life experiences. The play is structured so scenes of the full cast going hell for leather in the disco alternate with individual monologues in which the characters describe their background or comment upon a topic important to them: female enjoyment of sex, date rape, coming out of the closet and coping with anxiety by learning to say ‘no’.

The setting for the play is simple but highly effective: an open, untidy suitcase and a series of neon dance tubes set the scene for the rushed and giddy holiday atmosphere. By far the most important factor is simply the high-energy performance of the cast, perfectly capturing a group of people desperate for a party and determined to squeeze as much fun as possible into the short time available.

…That’s What She Said is a play that demonstrates in a practical manner the viewpoints it expresses. The inclusive view of society is apparent in opening and closing speeches being performed verbally and in sign language. The positive attitude towards sisterhood is reflected in the characters sharing feminine hygiene products or unexpectedly discovering a mutual love of a certain song.

Ironically for a verbatim theatre piece, the play works best using minimum verbal communication. The ritualised behaviour on the dance floor—eyes closed in reverence and characters moving in sync—is hilarious. A body search at the airport becomes a particularly harrowing demonstration of everyday harassment.

…That’s What She Said is also a welcome blast from the past—a reminder that, pre-pandemic, it was possible to do things purely for fun without feeling you were betraying society.

Yet Out The Attic do not seem completely confident they are communicating their viewpoint. The monologues add depth to the characters but sometimes become a bit heavy-handed and ram home points. They are so carefully constructed to minimise offence and be motivational, at times they cross the line from being a speech towards becoming a lecture. There is a move away from the character speaking—the use of words like ‘heteronormative’ by a teenager seems unlikely—towards an author making their point.

This occasional lack of subtlety in the direct speeches makes it hard to identify the intended audience for the play. The speeches might be best suited to younger audiences in an educational setting.

The imaginative blend of physical action and verbal communication in …That’s What She Said brings vibrancy and excitement to the verbatim theatre format. Although the monologues may occasionally seem clumsy, the play delivers a welcome positive viewpoint and showcases an excellent cast.

Reviewer: David Cunningham

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