Female friendships are the ultimate paradox. On the one hand they can be intimate, nurturing and honest, on the other they might be superficial, false and downright cruel. Often, they are both – at the same time. In a sense, female friendships provide a conduit through which women play out their innermost hopes, dreams, insecurities and disappointments in a far more volatile way than they would with, say, their partners.
In a true female friendship a woman is free to unleash it all: the good, the bad and, more often than not, the ever so ugly. And that’s what Katie (Anna McCarthy) and Imogen (Zoey Dawson) do in the sometimes funny, often dark and undeniably-squirm-in-your-seat intense, I Know There’s A Lot Of Noise Outside But You Have To Close Your Eyes.
The set up is all too familiar in the Facebook Age. Two old high school chums who life has drawn apart decide to collide for one night of rum and cokes and cosmos to see what has changed and what, if anything, hasn’t.
Together with director Allison Wiltshire, McCarthy and Dawson are part of Melbourne-based pussy posse, I’m Trying To Kiss You, who put on self-penned performance works that touch on everything from tuna pasta to patriarchy. Gutsy stuff. And so it is with the intriguingly long (in the name sense) but short in duration (60 minutes)I.K.T.A.L.O.N.O.B.U.H.T.C.Y.E.
The “noise” of the title refers to the preening and posturing or “constructed identity” that lies on the surface of female relations; the look-how-fabulous-and-successful-and-totally-happy-I-am wall of defence that masks the I’m-lonely-and-single-and-haven’t-had-sex-in-months reality that you’ll find if only you “close your eyes”. Through the course of the evening Katie and Imogen oscillate between these outer and inner worlds of representation, discovering along the way that neither are quite what they seem at a cursory glance.
Both are dynamite performances. Dawson and McCarthy are witty at times and ragingly bitter and daring at others. It’s a play of extremes, an emotional roller coaster that demands a lot from its audience in terms of its complexity and intensity. If you’ve come for Sex And The City you’ve taken a wrong turn (unless it’s the episode where Miranda fantasises about choking Carrie with one of her Manolo Blahniks). But if you like your theatre to slap you up the side of the head and say “wake up and smell the nail varnish, bitch” then it’s vodka shots all round.
I’m Trying To Kiss You presents
Director Allison Wiltshire
Venue: Parade Studio, NIDA, 215 Anzac Pde,Kensington
This review first appeared on Australian Stage