REVIEW: Dr.Carnesky’s Incredible Bleeding Woman (Soho Theatre) ★★★★

This raunchy, absurd, feminist Cabaret is wonderfully tongue in cheek and full of dry humour. It is filled with outrageous acts and is, in turn, beautiful, shocking and provocative but never boring. The overall subject, which permeates every second of the show, is the taboo subject of menstruation. However, this show takes a somewhat mystic view of this perfectly natural bodily function and proceeds, with great humour, to turn the prosaic facts on their heads.

The form of the show is that everyone’s favourite aunt Dr.Marisa Carnesky, quoting from her recently completed PhD on the subject of menstruation, explains the history and the myths behind her pet subject. In doing so she introduces a host of collaborating female artists who demonstrate conjuring tricks, sword swallowing, dangling by their hair and modern dance. These artists are collectively known as The Menstruants.

Dr.Carnesky explains that, believe it or not, the origin of all magic is menstrual. Even to the extent where the execution of Jesus was misappropriated by mankind who turned the flow of menstrual blood into an open wound in Jesus’s side. I did not say that the humour was in good taste, just funny.

According to Dr.Carnesky The Menstruants are a group of radical Cabaret artists who came together for three months in Southend on Sea to re-invent menstrual rituals. During the show there is blood everywhere, on faces, on clothes, on bodies even coating the stage. In fact blood is liberally spilt wherever it might offer the chance to make the audience laugh.

Marisa Carnesky is a very funny lady, her persona is the ingenue academic who is trying her best to deliver an important message. Marisa has a history of making great performance work including the Jewess Tattooist, The Insect Circus (collaborating with a giant earwig) and a Ghost Train in Blackpool (which professes to be a permanent memorial to women lost between Eastern and Western Europe).

As well as Marisa the cast includes the exquisite MisSa Blue who thrilled us with her suggestive sword swallowing. Marisa claimed, with some cod scientific justification, that the length of the sword “swallowed ” by MisSa at any particular show related to the time in her menstrual cycle. This time she swallowed the biggest one much to the satisfaction of the audience. MisSa is multi skilled with sword and fire and appeared in France’s Got Talent and also appeared at the World Burlesque Games. She is beautiful, somehow scary and dominating at the same time.

Fancy Chance (Veronica Thompson), Alternative Miss World 2009 and London’s Top Tranny 2010 .
Dancer, professional show off and Hair Hanger. Veronica is something of a mystery to me. Everything you read about her indicates that she is a woman so how did she become to be named “Top Tranny” and is that term even politically correct?

Multidisciplinary artist Priya Mistry , playwright and performer Molly Beth Morossa, Japanese artist Nao Nagal, long time Carnesky company performer Rhiannon Styles and performer and choreographer H Plewis completed the cast except for an, all too brief, appearance by H’s lovely baby Sula Plewis Robin, who at about three or four months old is the youngest member of the Menstruants. All were superb.

The show is full of glamour and fun. The cast are talented and attractive. Not too sure about the subject though. Overall great fun and much more palatable than I expected. Good job Marisa.

Look out for the wonderful cast and particularly Dr.Marisa Carnesky in the future you will not be disappointed.

Reviewed by Graham Archer

Dr.Carnesky’s Incredible Bleeding Woman plays at London’s Underbelly Festival 20 – 25th June
and Pleasance Edinburgh 2 – 28th August 2017.