Everyone should watch this show. And I mean everyone. As a 21-year-old man, it would be easy to assume that I wasn’t the target audience for a performance about a middle-aged woman’s relationship with her sexuality and her body. But that could not be more wrong. Anna Friend has devised an utterly hilarious, and incredibly moving, play about the struggles that women go through from such an early age to feel ‘sexy’ and desirable. She charts the course of her relationship to this struggle throughout her life. Beginning with when she first watched porn at the age of 11, to her more recent revelation that she is in fact bisexual. She holds nothing back as she takes the audience through this journey, which leads to as many hilarious moments as it does profound ones. I’ll try not to give away too much here though!
Friend has such a good ability to build a relationship with the audience. The venue is small and intimate, which lends itself perfectly to her style of delivery. It really feels like we are being invited to share in her story. At times, it felt reminiscent of when a friend gives you a rundown of their latest exploits. Everything is delivered with great comic timing, and the numerous inflatables, pop culture references, and brilliant soundtrack help keep the audience completely engaged throughout. Perhaps the one area the show could have improved is if Friend had occasionally lent more heavily into physical comedy, especially when dancing with an inflatable boyfriend! This is such a minor point though as I’m Sexy and I Know It is, ultimately, a conversation with the audience, which Friend does brilliantly.
Beyond the hilarity, what really makes this show so good is its relatability and or educational value. There were two women in the row in front of me, who would frequently say things like ‘I’ve done that’. It was so clear that Friend’s story, or at least the broad strokes of it, was a shared experience for so many women. The difficult relationship with her body, the feeling that she always had to be sexy for men, the unrealistic expectations set by all kinds of media. Friend’s journey is one I’m sure many people will empathise with, and find comfort in. Her final message that whatever we may feel, everyone is sexy, and everyone deserves to be loved, is a powerful sentiment that everyone needs to hear from time to time. So, if you’re looking for something to relate to, I couldn’t recommend this more.
Even if, however, you don’t know much about the struggles women go through throughout their lives, do yourself a favour and go to this anyway. There really is no better way to learn.
Reviewer: Ben Pearson
Reviewed: 5th August 2023
North West End UK Rating: