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.
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4 / 5
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This play sets out to show a mirror contrast between two women. One at the early age of experimental sex and one that seems to be burnt out, free falling into a vicious spiral of self abuse. The message is clear, if you allow people to abuse you, then they will do so with great delight. Only you can help yourself. The use of stage, props, music was very good in a great directed two hander play. Would like to have seen a longer scene between the two women, the ending for me was slightly rushed.