Where have all our women gone?
The Lion & Unicorn Theatre
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Things need to change.
In case we need to be reminded why things need to change, a character in Elizabeth Huskisson’s surreal collage of voices tells us that, “according to the World Economic Forum, six women are killed every hour by men around the world.”
Set in a sea of torn-up newspapers, this furious one-woman monologue conjures up the names of victims, the names of the killers, the statistics, the voices of commentators and a satirist who mocks the macabre logic of a society that continues in the same old way as if the only thing that can be done is to lock away a fraction of those who rape women and then mourn the dead.
It begins as it ends with the urgent terrified voice of Everywoman saying, “Don’t get in the car, Sarah. Don’t believe him. Run.”
If only Sarah Everard had refused. Maybe it would have helped for her to have followed the Metropolitan Police advice to “flag down a bus”, though whether a bus would have pulled over for a woman being taken away in handcuffs by police is another matter.
It’s bad enough having always to take precautions, always to live in fear. A short clip of a long list we hear is as follows:
“Everywoman you know has taken a longer route.
Has doubled back on herself.
Has pretended to dawdle by a shop window.
Has held her keys in her hand.
Has made a fake phone call.
Has rounded a corner and run.
Every woman you know has walked home scared.”
And as for the police who should protect us all, they chat frighteningly in these words on a WhatsApp group which Wayne Cousins probably read.
Me: You won’t want to listen to this but it’s true
Officer A: “I would happily rape you.”
Officer B: “If I was single I would happily chloroform you.”
Officer C: “Getting a woman into bed is like spreading butter. It can be done with a bit of effort using a credit card, but it's quicker and easier just to use a knife.”
We hear of a long line of reports detailing the appalling attitudes of the police, but as the character named the satirist says, “misogyny in this country is so bad that they’ve just decided to do nothing about it.”
Elizabeth Huskisson’s intense sixty-minute performance is visually striking, emotionally unsettling and politically challenging. It is difficult theatre to watch, but important in the angry ferocity of its stance against the violence women endure.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna