Saturday, January 28

The Sian Clarke Experience – Underbelly, Cowgate

There is a lot of dirt, a lot of grime, a lot of mess and a lot of rage on stage of the Sian Clarke experience, a physical performance that is as deliberately irreverent and uncomfortable as it is necessary for our society. It seems like an out-of-control rage that of the young comedian, Sian Clarke, but it is instead a calculated fun guaranteed by the strong stage presence of the performer who fills the stage with mastery and awareness. Sian does not want to be sexy, she does not want to be funny, she does not want to be “a good girl”, she wants to be uncomfortable, desecrating, attacking a sexist and patronising society that threatens women on a daily basis and frames them in demeaning and humiliating categories.

Hers is a necessary testimony, unfortunately shared by all the women present in the room, which is a spokesperson for an increasingly toxic and sick society and is combined with an emotional anger that is over the top but equally powerful, raw, with great communicative power. With the help of props and stage equipment, Sian gets dirty, physically and morally, descending into what is the dirtiest aspect of human nature and laying bare her body but even more her disgust, her resentment, her fear even. In bringing such an ugly, disgusting and overly sexual theme to the stage, Sian wonders how to make it relatable, funny, but at the same time equally horrific and disgusting, and the answer is as hilarious as it is provocative.

The result is in fact a highly cathartic and irreverent performance, but above all a necessary one, not only in exposing the contemporary female condition in a crude, realistic and highly emotional way, but in conveying it with tones and manners that leave no room for excuses, grey areas and misunderstandings. It is a necessary show not only for men, but also for women, those many women who feel alone, isolated in their role as sexual objects imposed by society, and who justify or attempt to normalise behaviours against which they should only shout, in full Sian Clarke style, “Fuck!”. In this, the play is so powerfully cathartic, not only in its expressive force, but in involving the spectator, in calling him to participate in this collective scream, to touch the very marrow of the problem without easy gimmicks.

A show that does not have the arrogance to change things, to have a social impact and to help protect and save the many women and girls who are constantly endangered, but which speaks to our anger and reassures it, showing us that dull pain, that visceral sense of impotence and desire for revenge as something normal and relatable, no longer to be hidden with shame, but to be proudly flaunted.

Sian Clarke wants to provoke and does so with skill, without easy gimmicks but with a dramatic force and humour that overwhelm and delight and leave no doubt about her talent.

Playing until 28th August, full details and tickets can be found HERE.

Reviewer: Anna Chiari

Reviewed: 12th August 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★