Is there enough theatre about sexual assault, women rights and sex education? Given recent #Metoo and #Timesup campaigns, there has been a rising awareness of what has been happening behind closed doors, and slowly more people are opening up about their traumatic experiences. Pearshaped Theatre’s production of the world’s first revenge cupcake company, Conquest, now showing at The Bunker Theatre, is a winning combination. Its writer, Katie Caden speaks candidly about what is often a difficult subject to talk about for many.
In Jess Daniels’s production, we watch Colette Eaton and Lucy Walker-Evans perform as Jo and Alice, and multiple characters, in what seems to be a female coalition against male sexual predators. Yet, there’s a deeper meaning to Conquest other than its baking business. These tampon-filled cupcakes are a political statement against the subjugation of sexually assaulted women, vulnerable and unable to speak up.
The dialogue is fresh and straight from your everyday adventure at the pharmacy. Speaking from a woman’s perspective there’s a lot of information, and misinformation, we are taught by teachers, school peers, mothers, and TV shows. Eaton and Walker-Evans cleverly weave through these confusing anecdotes and deconstruct them. Who said a single sperm was strong or a female egg was passive and weak? (BULLOCKS!) When did we think it was okay to say nothing when someone was doing something uncomfortable to us? One thing to learn from Eaton and Walker-Evans excellent performance is the lack of conversation about sexual assault and what to do once it has happened to us, or anyone.
Conquest is a witty play that moves from various scenes to keep the conversation interesting and original. One moment, Jo and Alice are talking to the audience, the next they are attempting Mission Impossible, and in another tense scene, they’re throwing cupcakes at members of parliament. No matter how old we get, we all need an education on sex, consensual sex and how to use our language to discuss it with others.
Speaking as someone who went to a convent in an all-girl Catholic school, I have some odd memories of sex education taught at school. In one class, our teacher (they were mostly nuns) told us we all had to put a condom on a banana. As we watched each other do it, one by one, we began to laugh at each other and how bizarre the situation was. Now, looking back in hindsight, I am thankful that my school enforced this type of education on us, 12-year-old girls. Yet, not every girl or woman will be privy to that type of lesson. Let’s stop the taboo on talking about sexual assault and sex in general, and keep discussing it as if we had bumped into a friend at our local Boots store.
Conquest continues at The Bunker Theatre until 9 June.
(I was provided a press ticket to review the show.)[Header image: Colette Eaton and Lucy Walker-Evans in Conquest. Production photo from a successful run at VAULT Festival 2018. Photo by Ali Wright.
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