'That time of the month' has taken on a new meaning for me in more recent years. Oh it's that time of the month to top up my Oyster card, time of the month to...sort out my nails, time of the month to...clean the flat (ashamed to say it but it's true.)
Why hadn't it applied to my old friend Polly Period? Well I, like many other women of a similar age came out of a relationship and kept up the pill habit. So laying my menstrual cards on the table, I don't actually get a physical period and haven't seen my old friend for about three years. I do however go through a cycle of some sort for which the spots on my face remind me of (some of that due to take-aways, wine and white chocolate I might add.)
Having not seen my own menstrual evidence for so long, what little gems (or perhaps Rubies) was Carnesky going to shine under a light this evening?
Marisa Carnesky, who has a solid reputation in creating zany performance work (find out more here) appeared at first as the expert head of menstruation. It didn't take long for her to charm the pants off the audience within the first five minutes. The Period Professor of the evening had a certain craft to her knowledge dispersion, reminiscent of a university lecturer that everyone adored for their extreme quirks and self-chosen uniform. The light and shade of Carnesky herself provided comic relief.
After introducing the Menstruants one by one (a group of cabaret performers who met monthly under the dark moon to reinvent menstrual rituals for the new era) we were left open to the visitation of each contributor to the stage.
First displays were from Nao Nagai, Fancy Chance and H Plewis. A lipstick plucked from the holy source of Fancy Chance and used to draw a line from neck to lips (the most important lips of the show), a menstrual jelly crushed crotch first by H Plewis herself, performed wth comic grace.
Visually memorable displays remain more ingrained, such as the sword swallowing wonderments of MisSa Blue, whose intriguing story links a throat injury to the monthly cycle.
The tea-time routine by Molly Beth Morossa acknowledged the bipolar representation that women can be branded with during TOTM. From Pleasantville Partner to Amityville Alice. I'm still left feeling the former was more disturbing.
Rhyannon Styles' personal ritual display on Southend Beach (on film) was a treat in so many ways, and induced a variety of reactions from audience members, some emotional, some entertaining.
Nao Nagai and Priya Mistry both performed puppetry offerings which gave just a little tickle, though more creative than many in their use of materials to invoke some thought.
The final stages of the show had me all wrapped up in what was becoming a Mad Hatter's menstrual party. The hair-raising sawing-the-woman-in-half-trick, that had been opened up for discussion earlier on in the performance, and a hair-raising display from Fancy Chance-literally. This was not merely a lecture. It was also show business!
At the height of vulnerability.com was Carnesky herself, ending the show in explaining her plight to understand the fascinating female cycle through her own experience of miscarriage- a subject which really isn't discussed enough. Admittedly there was a shift at this point. Suddenly this night was multifaceted in a different way.
I found myself staring a little more than usual at every appearance of blood. I admit that I did feel a certain sorrow that I couldn't apply a recent menstrual memory to the stories of the night. Like when you realise you haven't seen a member of your family for three years (that long-really?)
What I did take away from Carnesky was a sense of openness.
An openness to talk more freely about periods, blood, cycles, miscarriage and anything deemed conversationally unfavourable about the natural occurrences in the female body.
Now wouldn't that be an interesting New Year's resolution?
CLICK HERE TO BOOK TICKETS: http://www.sohotheatre.com/whats-on/dr-carneskyandrsquo-s-incredible-bleeding-woman/
BECOME A MENSTRUAL ACTIVIST: FIND THE MENSTRONAUTS ON FACEBOOK HERE: