Following a series of International Women’s Day events at Newport’s Riverfront Theatre which included poetry and comedy, the premiere of Taking Flight Theatre Co’s presentation of Kaite O’Reilly’s peeling was for me, the icing on the cake.
A performance within a performance, peeling explores the relationship of three women, Alfa, Beaty and Coral, who are fighting against prejudices of being D/deaf and disabled while remaining alienated from their fellow performers in an epic production of the stage play, Trojan Women Then and Now.
Placed at the back of the stage, because the theatre dressing rooms are not accessible for them, the women, resplendent in sumptuous padded gowns, unfurl a collection of unapologetic views and provocations about their lives.
Peeling starts off with screen monitors, queuing the performers and musicians for Trojan Women Then and Now. With Beaty (Ruth Curtis) and Coral (Steph Lacey) already present on stage, its down to the much put-upon stage manager (Erin Hutching) to locate the absent Alfa (Bea Webster) who due to her deafness has missed her prompt to join the cast on stage.
The first of several fiery performances gets underway as the three women take part in the Trojan Women… an epic feel magically presented in a studio space given to well-placed lighting staging and effective lighting.
Between Trojan Women… scenes, we are treat to Alfa, Beaty and Coral’s cheeky, rude and sometimes brutally honest comments to each other, their fellow performers and even the audience. Delving into their gowns which cleverly hide walking aids or wheel chairs (allowing the audience to focus on the person, not their disability) the women produce soup blenders, rubber duck cushions and adult-rated needlework as they discuss the events and relationships within their lives.
Ruth Curtis, Steph Lacey and Bea Webster themselves present three endearing performances that are hard hitting and feisty as well as lovable and honest, Erin Hutching’s stage manager neatly crosses over into that of a BSL (British Sign Language) interpreter, while monitors also display the production script bringing a further element of communication and audience accessibility to the production.
Heart-warming, funny, emotional and educational, peeling is a beautiful and timely production that informs and reminds the audience of our own ignorance’s and prejudices whether we are able-bodied, disabled, female or male.
A perfect presentation for an imperfect world, peeling deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible as it takes flight on a tour across Wales and into the UK this spring. For further details visit Taking Flight’s website.