The F Words is a one-woman show by written and performed Yvette Dudley-Neuman, and directed by Maureen Robinson. This show contains some sexual content.
The F Words examines themes of aging and obesity and a sense of worthlessness, from a female perspective, in modern times. It is an auto-biographical piece that traces Dudley-Neuman’s experiences of shame, from her tween years into her 40s. These experiences take up most of the show, but in the final act, we also see her overcome some of her fears and challenges to embrace new adventures and self-concepts.
Dudley-Neuman must be applauded for what is probably the most creative set piece I have ever seen at any Fringe show, the goddess curtains, and they are inspiringly used. I only wished that they had been more front and centre.
Surprisingly, there are a few musical numbers in this show. Dudley-Neuman has a wonderful voice, and the songs are the strongest aspects of the piece, showcasing not only her vocal talent, but also the wit and cleverness of the writing.
Unfortunately, despite some great writing and wonderful moments, this show suffers from significant structural issues. It is far too long at 75 minutes, with too many unnecessary characters, anecdotes, and time jumps. I was often confused about where and when we were, and which character was speaking. Although I loved the goddess parts, the grandmother who introduces them could have been cut altogether, until her amazing and hilarious sex lesson in the final act.
The F Words has the makings of a great show, and speaks to a group that is grossly under-represented in theatre and media. I anticipate that many women over 40 would feel like they have a voice and a sister in Yvette Dudley-Neuman.
The F Words is playing at Performance Works 6 - 16 September as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
~ reviewed by Vanessa Marshall
Click "read more" for the full video transcript.
Hello theatre addicts. My name is Vanessa Marshall, and I'm reviewing The F Words by Yvette Dudley-Neuman. Which is playing at Performance Works here on Granville Island as part of the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
I just saw the show, and it's a show that's about aging, and it's also a show that is about obesity, and in particular what it's like to be a woman who is on the heavier side and is getting into middle age.
I think if those topics interest you, it would probably hit close to home, and probably be really effective. If those topics don't interest you, I would maybe, you know, consider that, I wouldn't buy new tickets. It's at Performance Works, which is ... It sort of works as a venue, because there's some music, and there's sort of different kinds of performances as part of the show, and so the kind of feel of Performance Works works for that. But it is a big space, and so that's challenging when there's a smaller audience.
I would say that the writing on this show is quite strong in that you really kind of can imagine the particular scenes and they're written in a very evocative kind of a way, and there's some humour in it. But there were some issues with delivery. It seemed like ... I would sort of recommend increasing the pace so it's a little bit faster, a little bit more phonetic, a little bit more Melissa McCarthy. 'Cause I think that the humour, while it's there in the words, isn't coming across as much in the performance, at least in the show that I saw.
The set was really interesting. It's a one woman show. And it's sort of a typical for there to be kind of any set really. The set was quite interesting. There are sort of three, sort of curtains, I guess you would say, meant to represent three goddesses of fate, and then they each had a corresponding kind of mask. And the curtains were used in a really creative and interesting way throughout the show which I really liked. But there seemed to be some technical problems in that when the sort of voices of the goddesses would be playing it was really hard to hear them, I couldn't make out what they were saying. So that was a bit of a technical challenge.
The other kind of feature of the stage, is that there's like a big screen. And one of the recurring sort of themes of the show is about word usage. And so words sort of come up on the screen, and that worked okay. I probably would have liked it if the goddess's part was more centre stage, because I thought that the work that was done with that was really interesting. And the words part having on the screen wasn't as comedic as maybe having it be on large cards or something like that maybe would have been.
I thought that while the writing has a lot of really good stuff to it, structurally there were problems with the show. There were times where I didn't really know where we were or who was talking, or when we were in time. And so that's a bit of a problem for me in terms of my enjoyment of the show. And it also is longer than I think it needs to be. I think it could have been more effective if it was quite a bit shorter. And certainly the whole first part I don't think is really necessary.
I had a hard time with sort of the middle. It kind of felt to me sort of bitter, and I sort of found that a little bit difficult, but the end is really good. The end really turns it around into some great positive messaging, and some really interesting ideas and some beautiful moments and tableaus and you know, you could just picture it.
And so the end is really strong. The beginning is, I don't think necessary, and the middle is a bit ... It's an interesting piece, because like I said, it's sort of more that there's songs and there's comedy and there's drama, and there's, you know, difficult moments. And really the songs are the strongest part of the show. The songs are funny, the musicality is good. Definitely the strength of this show is in the songs. And the audience certainly loved the songs. You know, everybody was laughing, people were singing along, it was really enjoyable.
So, you know, for me it was a mixed bag this show. It had some great moments, it had some good parts, but there were some structural issues, and I think the comedy wasn't fully brought out as much as it could be and I hope that it will be in future performances.
That's my review for The F Words, which is playing at Performance Works as part of 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival. My name is Vanessa Marshall. Please feel free to post your thoughts below this video, and sign up to our YouTube page, and we'll be posting more reviews as part of our theatre addicts review of the Vancouver 2018 Fringe Festival.
Thanks so much. Have a good night.
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