Come on strong, but effectively

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TO SW Emotional Ruphin Coudyzer

EMOTIONAL CREATURE

CAST: Lara Lipschitz, Barileng Malebye, Vuyelwa Maluleke, Ratanang Rati Mogotsi, Zakeeya Patel, Karabo Gerome Tshikube.

WHERE: UJ Theatre, Auckland Park

UNTIL: Ends Tomorrow

RATING: ****

FEMALE genital mutilation. Rape. Prostitution. Child labour. Coming out. Bullying. Identity. Plastic surgery. Selfies. Suicide. Social media. Shopping. And even short skirts.

In Emotional Creature Tony Award-winner Eve Ensler refuses to let up for a minute. It’s hard-hitting, fierce, in-your-face theatre, which explores what it means to be a young woman today.

And honestly, being a girl is tough, whether it’s in America, South Africa, China, Romania or the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). But when has it ever been easy, you might wonder?

Renowned for the Vagina Monologues, which has been translated into dozens of languages and performed in more than 140 countries, Ensler’s latest play finishes a brief run at the UJ Theatre tomorrow.

Parents, if you’re wondering what is going on in the mind (and body) of your teenager, you should watch. With your teenagers.

It’s not easy, mindless theatre – and Ensler, who has travelled to some of the world’s conflict hot spots from Afghanistan to Bosnia and Haiti, does not pull punches when it comes to issues of violence against women and girls.

While being female might not be easy in most societies, there are hell-holes that are not reported on in the mainstream media.

Ensler recounts the story of a rape victim in Goma, in the DRC, where young girls are abducted by militias, held captive for years and repeatedly raped. This story has a happy ending – the girl escapes after two years, with her baby, her rapist dies and she can finally love her child.

Not all are so lucky. In Romania, another girl tells of being raped by her father’s friend, shunned by her family and kicked out of her home, then “taken in” by a “good Samaritan” who locks her up for repeated rapes, where she becomes a syphilis-riddled “vessel” for men.

Ever thought about the toys we buy our children? Not really? Perhaps we should because those Barbie dolls are assembled in China, by young children, who also help to stitch their fashionable clothes. They never get to play with dolls because theirs is a world of work. Not play.

There are some light moments – of dancing, fun, frivolity and comedy. But the message is that girls the world over are exploited – by others and the media. But are women “emotional creatures”? We all are – to some extent, men and women, but the title, Emotional Creature, sits uncomfortably with some feminist ideas.

For one, does saying you’re an emotional creature preclude you from being a rational, thinking one? Are we victims of our emotions? And especially, are girls and women, victims?

Be warned that it’s not easy viewing – and if you feel the world is a terrible place and you don’t want to expose your children to unnecessary trauma, you might want to steer clear.


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