The Herald – 14 August 2003

The Girls Of May

The Zoo, until Saturday, 7.15pm * * * *

How’s this for anarchy? Two days in, and this poetic meditation of the well-documented and mythologised counter-cultural uprising of Paris, 1968, is already sold out. So, producers F****** Furious Theatre oversell seats to at least twice the venue’s official capacity. The subsequent tight-squeeze solidarity has the feel of an occupation, and is an all-too-appropriate hijack of free-market economics. What follows in this adaptation of Italo-Cuban writer Alba de Cespedes’s poetry is a moving and heartfelt portrait of women on the frontline, which, by juxtaposing the day-to-day struggles of the past with more recent events at Genoa, puts a very human face on things. There’s something refreshing about watching such a fresh-faced cast of seven, none of whom can be much over 20, getting stuck in to such meaty material. While Sara Muzio’s production, which melds grainy monochrome film footage from 35 years ago with more vivid, hand-held living colour video, is a gloriously messy affair, the counterpoint of riot footage offset by the sounds of Sinatra crooning Anything Goes is absurdly in keeping with the spirit evoked. As each woman pulls down white drapes, with all the symbolism of dirty laundry, surrender, or peace attached, shades of that other theatrical activist, Franca Rame, pour through the monologues. Far from perfect, but performed with such chutzpah as to make any imperfections seem strangely, hauntingly, as it should be.

Neil Cooper