REVIEW: FABRIC (Soho Theatre) ★★★★★

With the #MeToo movement facing ever growing criticism, often labelled as an overindulgent fad, it is imperative that plays like Fabric exist to reinforce the harrowing origin to the bravery behind these women.

Damsel Productions was conceived in 2015 by Hannah Hauer-King and Kitty Wordsworth in pursuit of putting female voices onstage and creative control in women’s hands. Their production of Abi Zakarian’s Fabric is having a short run at the Soho Theatre until 22nd September.

This one-woman play tells the story of Leah, a sentimental Essex girl who meets her prince charming while working as an assistant at a suit shop. After dating and falling blissfully in love, wedding plans become swiftly underway and Leah (played by Nancy Sullivan) begins to question whether this is everything she ever dreamed of or if she simply got lost in the gender ideals the world likes to shape women minds with. The story takes an unexpected turn which leaves Leah’s dress and life in tatters and the audience gawping with abhorrence, fury and heartbreak.

The script is rapid and biting, if a little awkward for the first five minutes as the audience adjust to the monologue form. The story constantly loops back to fabric, how each item of clothing makes Leah feel, defines her character or the character people assume her to be. Zakarian’s writing erupts with full technicolour as Leah describes her aversion towards her wedding dress which stands up on its own and weighs her down like a bag of bricks. There is simply a length of cream chiffon to represent the gown, however the vibrant language coupled with Sullivan’s charming delivery illustrates the absurdity and pressure behind her wedding in a way which represents perfectly the subtleties in patriarchal constructs.

The staging is minimal, with furniture dotted around the stage to cater for the pace at which the character changes location. Lighting plays a significant role in illustrating Leah’s isolation during the climax of the piece, trapping a beady-eyed Sullivan in a headlight-esque spotlight.

Fabric being brought into the heart of London’s Soho feels like a call to action. The climate of acceptance and resistance in publicly sharing experiences of sexual assault bends in unfortunate peaks and troughs – the world’s outlook has changed and will most likely continue to change for many years. Fabric is a play which forever reinforces the life-destroying horror of sexual assault and the necessity that it should be treated with the utmost respect now, then and in the future. In the comedic and fiery words of Deborah Frances White (Guilty Feminist Podcast), she tweets ‘Whenever I stop & ask myself if the #MeToo movement has gone too far, I remember the previous #WomenHaveToPutUpWithAnyShit movement & think, ‘Well that had a really good run.’’

Reviewed by Nicole Darvill-Batten


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