A defiant and insolent one-woman play, Things That Do Not C(o)unt explores body positivity and female sexuality through the semi-autobiographical journey of three generations of women.

It’s a tale that sways back and forth between England and Poland, by way of obscure Polish songs, dead fish and pearls. Writer and performer Nastazja Somers ponders,

‘When do you stop being a child? When do you become a woman? When did it all begin?’

Things That Do Not C(o)unt cleverly interlocks movement pieces, spoken poetry and video projections that radiate both melancholia and genuineness. The audience are pulled between the narrative of Poland’s seasonal changes and the non-linearity of Somers’ personal anecdotes.

First period. First bra. The stories are quickly washed off in favour of tales of kisses, Polish rain and homemade dishes; they rapidly emerge at the helplessness of women when it comes to relationships, both with ourselves and with others. Under BJ McNeill‘s direction, Somers becomes her own medium, bringing to life women who have fought, loved and suffered; women who can be warm; women who can be cruel; women who live with the self-awareness of their own body every single day.

Her raw monologues are interrupted by haunted conversations with the almighty voice of a therapist – just the right underlying tone of both societal and motherly:

“I wish you were just a little bit anorexic”, she says, hitting the vivid red thread of the show, right on point.

Somers manages to bring together multiple art forms in her depiction, the torment of carrying yourself when you steer away from what is expected of you – sexually, behaviourally, visually:

“I have been on a diet since I was ten”

The audience goes silent as she endures the freedom of sensuously enjoying a grapefruit – a powerful image of femininity long before Kendall Jenner started playing with them in her branded underwears – and devouring a slice of cake, effortlessly switching from bold carnality to cheeky authenticity before the visceral madness of living with an eating disorder takes over. Some of the scenes linger for too long at times, and Things That Do Not C(o)unt will benefit with a quicker pace. But in that gluttonous moment, we are suspended between warmth and loathing, smiling at a woman as she stuffs her face with frenzy. Somers looks down and screams in pain and agony, brought to the ground under the weight of expectations – we cannot help but think back to the prelude of the show and her earlier words:

‘When do you stop being a child?’

Well, never. A woman never forgets who she once was and what she once did – she does not have the privilege to.

 

 

★★★★☆

Things That Do Not C(o)unt runs as part of the VAULT Festival until 18 March 2018. For further information, please visit the venue website.