By Caitlin McGrane
As a loud, outspoken feminist I was terribly excited about More Female Parts. I’d greedily devoured the press notes about the show, playwright Sara Hardy’s creation specifically for Evelyn Krape based on Krape’s 1982 show Female Parts. The show delivered an interesting and unique one-woman show exploring femininity and aging. The show consists of three monologues: ‘Can’t Sleep, Can’t Sleep’ was a clever depiction of life for women after 60 when nothing seems to be going right; ‘Penthouse Woman 2044’ portrayed a woman living a privileged and tragic life in the near future (interestingly in 2044 I will be Krape’s current age); and ‘Hip Op’, a witty feminist fairytale about Emily, a smart little girl who grows into a woman facing the glass ceiling.
Each monologue was performed with charisma and gusto by Krape, clearly having an absolute ball on stage. She is a fantastically physical, exuberant and witty performer, and the audience seemed captivated throughout her performance, particularly during the third act when Emily encountered difficulties in hip and career. It was unfortunate then that the show didn’t grab me in an emotional way. Despite Krape’s brilliant physicality and clear passion, the script occasionally felt a touch stale and clichéd. I would have liked to see more heart in the characters and less ‘performance’ from Krape to leave the audience with a message. It is certainly important to acknowledge the seriously problematic dearth of roles for women over 40, so it is brilliant to see older women on stage and screen; however, I would have liked more from More Female Parts, particularly in addressing some of the issues briefly alluded to such as domestic violence and the male gaze.
Hardy is clearly a talented playwright, and Lois Ellis a talented director, however, I think that this production would have been more affective with fewer metaphorical nods and winks to the audience. I don’t think society has embraced feminism enough for it to cope with a feminist fairytale, let alone an ironic feminist fairytale.
That said, it is not entirely without merit. The production values were excellent, Rainbow Sweeney (set and costume design) and Emma Valente’s (lighting design) work was effective and expertly put together; the lighting at times gave Krape an ethereal glow. Production and stage manager Meg Richardson and producer Debby Maziarz have helped lead this small, all-female team towards a rare and often charming production. Special mention must also go to the only three men involved in the production, the voice overs: Tom Carmody, Ross Campbell and Peter Crouchman; they couldn’t have done it without you boys.
More Female Parts is now showing at the Arts Centre until 4 July. For tickets go to: http://www.artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on/theatre-drama/more-female-parts