Her Naked Skin

I’ve just been to see a play that has completely refocused my views on militant suffragetes. Seeing a very convincing re-en-action of a woman being force fed via tube and funnel while strapped to a chair and gagged was pretty horrific. Seeing the same woman graphically and audibly slit her wrists in the next scene added to a very believable display of human pain.

Her Naked Skin is playing at the National Theatre till October in rotation with Middleton’s Revenger’s Tragedy. I recommend it to anyone who’s ever been too lazy to vote. I’d also recommend it to any girl who likes kissing other girls. And to Sarah Waters fans.

On the voting point: I’d like to think that next time I can’t be arsed to walk 400m to my nearest polling station, I’ll think of this play. Even if it means voting for the modern day equivalent of the Monster Raving Looney Party and Screaming Lord Such, then I must fucking vote.

An ex-girlfriend of mine used to say this to me, repeatedly. But, as with anything that sounds even remotely like nagging, it was quickly scanned, filtered and directed towards the junkmail part of my mind. I often used to jokingly refer to my ex as a militant suffragette too. Which is still amusing, because she frequently assumed the prone position…oh, only joking. No, she was just pretty assertive when asserting herself, that’s all.

However, now I have bit more context with my militancy, I probably wouldn’t do that. She would never have thrown herself under a horse, anyway. Everyone knows Emily Davison died after chucking herself under the King’s horse at the Derby. That should be incentive enough for any female to go vote. But for some reason it’s not. Probably because the story is impersonal and while shocking, struggles to stand out from the plethora of other shocking stories everyone with a radio/TV hears about on a daily basis.

The author of Her Naked Skin, one Rebecca Lenkiewicz, also did a great job of conveying the pain and mystification that goes with being dumped and having your lesbian heart broken for the first time. So perhaps what I’m saying is that having had a bit of lesbian subtext added to my suffragette city, I’m sold. I wish I was less lez-centred sometimes…

The ‘I think we should part’ chat part of the play was awesomely raw. The aftermath likewise. It was written completely from the point of view of the person being ditched – playwrights don’t dwell on the nice times. So with broken hearts, slit wrists and tubes down throats, this play entertained me for three hours and left me feeling pretty damn bad for not getting off my comfortably placed ass and voting last time I had the chance. It didn’t make me feel bad for hating ex-girlfriends, though!

As an aside, the play wasn’t all grim tales and foreboding faces. There’s a brilliant scene where the suffragettes are doing some shooting practise, and head suffragette bellows the instruction ‘cock!’ This induces schoolgirl tittering among the ladies, which I couldn’t help myself joining in with, perhaps a little too loudly in a hearty period drama style chortle.

This play certainly wasn’t quite the wholesome frolic some in the audience might have been expecting. There were some excellent lezzery jokes which were either lost or tactfully ignored by the largely white, straight and middle aged audience. There was also all manner of skirt lifting, tonguing and general lesbian fiddling ongoing, as the period piece panned out. Hot collars abound.

As one of my Homies artfully pointed out, being one of the first nights it was probably full of Telegraph readers who’d traded in their two-for-one-hotel-and-bus-ride-in-from-Surrey coupons. So, the shocked faces and stunned silences added to the air of naughtiness and made the ‘unspeakable act’ seem, well, pretty unspeakable. What fun!


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