Often as blunt as a punch in the face, at other times darkly funny, Anna Jordan’s play about sex, body image and self-loathing adds to the ongoing conversation about society’s deep-seated and troubling tendency to overtly sexualise women’s bodies.
‘Freak’ is a story of two ordinary women – one practically still a child at 15, the other struggling to be an adult at 30 – told from two bedrooms. Leah is at the beginning of her sexual life: obsessed with getting rid of her pubes, knowing how many dicks her friends have seen and going the whole way with her boyfriend. Georgie is a mess: she’s started working for a lap-dancing club which makes her feel like a ‘goddess’ and her worries – the death of her dad, the breakdown of her relationship – are eclipsed by the power of making men want her.
Things get exceptionally dark, particularly for Georgie, who ends up on one drunken, drug-fuelled and excruciatingly self-destructive bender. Leah’s troubles are less extreme but no less upsetting as she comes under pressure to do things she’s just not sure about.
Jordan’s strong script bubbles with a fierce intelligence and delivers a satisfying twist that offers some kind of redemption for both characters. Ultimately ‘Freak’ reminds us that we have a responsibility to each other in the way we deal with and portray sex.
The two actresses, April Hughes and Lia Burge, are very good. Burge hides Georgie’s sadness beneath a veneer of hardness and sarcasm; Hughes conveys the confusing mists of teenage hood well. It’s their down-to-earth performances and entirely relatable characters that troublingly remind us, amid all the pop-star glamour and sex-sells culture, how easy it is to lose ourselves.