Thursday, 22 May 2014

Rosalind Bouverie responding to Idiot-Syncrasy by Igor and Moreno

Igor and Moreno gaze into the audience. Their song, soft at first, rouses to passion. In the silence afterwards they stare forwards and begin their synchronous bounce.

Anoraks are unzipped, jeans and trainers come off. We hear the sure pulse of their feet. They bounce apart and come back alongside. When one leaves the stage, we feel paired with the other. When the twosome resumes, we feel their unison.

They pant. Tension builds as they punch arms to a climax of energy. After, their arms flop alongside, it feels easy. No synchrony here, relief comes for one, then the other. But their feet stay in rhythm. They share a drink with each other .With big grins they bring us bottles and glasses. We offer drinks to each other, brief pairings in the auditorium.

In an intense heartbeat of electronic sound, their arms rise up and push into space as if plunging into water to swim. They turn and brush their bare feet along the floor like bulls. Still twinned, their moves speak of freedom.

Eye contact that seemed only for us is now offered to the other. They get so close they clasp, still turning. In the low yellow light one is lifted by the other on his back, then, legs are wrapped round,   and heart against heart embrace. As they turn, we see the carrier’s face and the one who is carried.

Now in the silence again, they’re stepping, not bouncing, like molecules moving in pattern. Sometimes one is faster than the other. They come to a sudden stop.

Igor and Moreno bounce out the pleasures and perils of unison with one another; they tease out where idiosyncrasy and love lie within the rhythms of human life. 

Monday, 19 May 2014

John Bourassa responding to Domestic Labour, A Study in Love by 30 Bird

Let's be honest: I generally don't even read theatre reviews, much less write them.
I joined this group because I want to help create and support new work and new audiences and to find ways to understand what makes them both tick.
But I do love theatre, or more accurately I’ve fallen in love with enough individual theatre works — or even just fleeting moments in performances — to sustain a belief that the medium is not entirely hopeless.
Theatre can be the most direct, personal, courageous, thoughtful, alive and complete way of communicating - at least in public.
To preserve that directness, I avoid reviews before a performance. I see work because I trust the company, director, venue, author, designer or performer (roughly in that order) or because I just need to take a risk. Also I'll see anything Dutch or Belgian...don't ask.
So this is not really a review. I won't be rehashing things much or writing for some imaginary reader who hasn't seen the show.
Instead I’d like to open a discussion about context, because for me Domestic Labour was more a study of context than of love.
Unfamiliar with 30 Bird's work, I came to Domestic Labour with precious little context to work from. The show would have to provide it for me.
Its opening tableau's simple staging, static performers and faux-Philip-Glass soundtrack, immediately placed it in the tradition of festival-based, movement-oriented, mainly visual performance art: competent, professional, with few surprises. Though the hoovers did intrigue me.
The ensuing text had flashes of poetry, effective rhythms, a certain playful muscularity. Studiously scattered, it forswore character, individualised voice, often even gender as far as I could tell. Not much context there, other than a pretty close adherence to the post-millennial fashion for abstraction and snippets of storytelling that never quite cohere.
The text worked as sound in much the same way as the staging worked as visuals: both sought to show, not to explain or contextualise.
It doesn't always work:  The use of the "Johnny Guitar" clips seems largely incidental: though the clash of its stagey feminist sensibilities and the macho context of fifties westerns is apposite,  the choice of Joan Crawford is a bit too Wooster Group/hipster for my taste.
But on the whole the effects work as intended: they are fleeting, evocative, cumulative. The everyday familiarity of the work's focus - house cleaning - certainly helps make the whole seem direct and unpretentious, even reassuring. The performances and staging - the interactions between woman and machine - are sometimes funny, surprising, genuinely fluid and appealing even in their occasional awkwardness. I was never bored and found the whole, umm, …sort of seductive. I did keep wishing one of the hoovers would suddenly explode in a cloud of dust - the way violence can suddenly explode on to domestic life in much of the world; the pop of the inner tube fell flat for me.
That said, the text's forays into expatriate life, Iranian history and feminism seemed almost peripheral in their steadfast refusal to cohere. Unlike some of you, I see this as more of a conscious choice than a failing, an attempt to avoid the pitfalls not just of narrative but of context itself. Theatre is at least a decade into a post-dramatic struggle against narrative, but this show seeks to go a little further into both abstraction and, paradoxically, concreteness. Abstract because both its form and content lack clear definition, concrete because we are given a succession of very specific textual, physical, and mechanical coups de theatre. What we aren't given is a way to think about all this: consistent characters, voices, timelines, histories, places, story, even ideas. We aren't given contexts. Context can be misleading, it can confine how and what we think, feel and see. It often blinds us to life as it is lived and experienced. It asks us to imagine through art instead of experiencing it, to think we understand a bit more of, say, "life in Iran" instead of just listening to its individual voices, juxtapositions, questions, lives, vacuums.
That said, I might have found its voices more direct and compelling if they seemed a bit more contemporary.
Maybe it's because I come from Quebec, which has in recent decades become one of the most feminist societies in the world. Complaining that men don't do housework strikes me as very 1954. Which reminds me, I have some hoovering to do.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Joy Martin responding to Domestic Labour, A Study in Love by 30 Bird

 A ‘Review’ by Joy L. Martin

The night after I saw Domestic Labour: A Study in Love by Cambridge theatre company 30 Bird, I dreamed that I was holding a vacuum cleaner to my ear like a conch shell and listening for the sea…

The show begins with three women standing on the stage, each holding an upright vintage hoover in her arms.  They were already standing there as I handed my ticket to the usher and walked to my seat, like statues witnessing the busy scene of the audience filling the theatre.  Then the house lights darkened, the stage lights came up, and music began to play as the women started moving.  The music reminded me of Philip Glass’s opera Einstein on the Beach: it was pointillist, energetic, repetitive, hypnotic, and at points, as in Glass’s work, a man’s talking voice speaking fragments of sentences appeared in the music, barely discernible.  The one phrase I could make out was ‘change the sheets, 1, 2, 3, 4…’  The women were busily hoovering, moving props onto the stage, gathering more vacuum cleaners - a dozen or so - and arranging them in a circular display in one corner of the stage.  Then, after this constant bustle, the music stopped, and they all fell down. 

As you will guess from the title, one of the preoccupations of the piece was domestic labour – specifically the domestic labour expected of and performed by women. The flyer for the show said that it was ‘a love story between a man and a woman, East and West, about the mundane and the monumental, the personal and the political, the dust behind the bed, and the Iranian baby boom.’  But, to me, story as a dramatic element in this piece felt somewhat faint in comparison to the other, more vivid elements of the piece. 

The show had a rich visual language created by the movements of the three women and their interactions with props – vintage hoovers, bicycles, radiators, pith helmets, fountains of dust, bombs, a television.  A love story did eventually emerge in the piece, but it was a highly abstract performance that felt almost like theatrical pointillism, so the love story was faintly superimposed upon the work in fragments of narrative, which slowly accumulated by the end of the piece to form a picture of a relationship between an Iranian man and an English woman. 

These poetic fragments were interspersed with thoughtfully choreographed vignettes depicting the women doing highly significant, abstract things which explored the themes of the piece – they cleaned, made a dust-fountain powered by a bicycle lodged in a radiator, cleaned again, acted out underground revolt culminating in setting off a bomb, and held up a television set playing the film Johnny Guitar for long, absorbing moments.  But although the marketing blurb set up an expectation in me for hearing a story about love which did not feel fulfilled, the lush, provocative abstraction of the piece created a fertile space for exploring a different theme, and the way it did so was engaging, fascinating – and fulfilling in a different way. 

The issue of housework and its relationship to women – and their relationships – felt like the largest theme under contemplation by the show; this felt like the subject of the show, with love, multi-nationalism in love, parental love, Iran, and politics all sub-elements filling in the aesthetic background, and branching off from this main theme.  It felt as if the flyer blurb could have said the show was about ‘the dust behind the bed, and how dust falls upon love, how it symbolises the mundane and the monumental, the personal and political…’
But here I need to depart from the frame of expectations I have set up by calling this article a ‘review’ and declare a staggering, leaning, wounded perspective surrounding my experience as a watcher of the show, and as the writer of this article. I wonder if the strength of my response to the show’s depiction of domestic labour was exaggerated – and my ability to pick up the elements of a ‘love story’ minimised – because I am a woman, and I have lived through thousands of moments of irritation at the way the boring, menial, repetitive, time-consuming chores of life are pushed disproportionately onto women.  A rant is rising, which I am going to choose, thoughtfully, not to suppress:

The way advertisements for cleaning products always feature women = irritant.  The phrase ‘women’s work’ = irritant.  The way my ex-husband’s mother told him never to help me with the housework because it was ‘my job’ = irritant.  The way the other men I have been with have also not been taught the value, practice and rhythms of keeping their environment clean by their mothers and fathers = irritant.  The way these men have harboured unconscious expectations for me to do more housework than them = irritant.  The history of female suppression stretching back hundreds, no, thousands, of years in our society leading up to this moment of improved but incomplete re-valuation of women, and which is symbolised by the women in the cleaning advertisements = irritant.  IT’S NOT FUCKING FAIR!!!!
[Long pause for breathing]
[Still breathing, head down, hands clenching each other]
[More breathing]
These moments have accumulated like dust in my psyche…so perhaps I was watching the show through a dusty lens.  Domestic Labour: A Study in Love was written by a man, Merhdad Seyf, which I didn’t realise until after the show.  I didn’t know the gender of the name ‘Merhdad’, and I assumed it was written by a woman.  And this made me wonder if Mehrdad also wrote the marketing blurb, and if through his eyes, the show was more about love than it was about dust. 

To me, this is an interesting question, which is about the power and purpose of theatre and the way conscious and unconscious elements dance with each other in the artistic imagination. 

The show’s flyer lists a historical consultant, Dr Lucy Delap, who collaborated with the piece, and her area of research is domestic labour, so it is clear that the intense statement of the dust theme – through music, props, movement, title, script – was highly conscious.  But I kept wondering about the inability of the love theme to reach me through all of the dust.  I wanted to hear about love; my expectations were primed for love by the flyer -- I love hearing about love…but all I could hear, care about, or engage with during and after the show was the dust. 

I wonder, with a fervent wish to honour Merhdad as a male artist who has made a powerful piece of theatre about the stifling of feminine power by domestic labour, whether the love theme of the piece was intended to shine more brightly out of it than it did to me.  I wonder if in Merhdad’s psyche and imagination, the luminance of the love theme has a different relationship with dust, and whether Merhdad has less dust in his psyche, because he is a man.  I wonder how conscious or unconscious most men are of the accumulated dust in women’s psyches around this question.  It can be difficult to truly grasp the extent of psychic damage done to someone else by an experience if you haven’t experienced it yourself – however, it is extremely encouraging that men are beginning to ask, to enquire about this, to imagine, empathise, create around this issue. 

It is probably my own psychic woundedness that craves full empathy, and feels suspicious about Merhdad’s ability to truly feel how I feel…  But then, I am white, and Merhdad is Iranian.  So, we are all on a merry-go-round of experience with different elements, different potential vulnerabilities to unconsciously embedded patterns of suppression or hurts in society, like female suppression, or racism.  From this whirling vantage point, it feels easier to simply thank him for caring, for asking, for creating, and to see him, rather than as a man or Iranian, as an Artist.

And aside from those (unanswerable) questions, the show affected me very powerfully.  It was Good Art.  It totally absorbed me, and I enjoyed the absorption.  It was deliciously poetically abstract, which allowed for questions to be thrown into the air, like the dust fountain from the bicycle, and they were important questions: How have women been affected by domestic labour? How has love between men and women been affected by it?  How dusty are we all?  What would love between men and women be like, if we cleaned our long, sad history of female suppression off of it?  This last question is the one I wonder most deeply about…as I wrote at the beginning, the night after I saw the show, I dreamed that I was holding a vacuum cleaner up to my ear like a conch shell and listening for the sea.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Kata Fulop responding to Domestic Labour, A Study in Love by 30 Bird

Domestic Labour: A Study in Love, the 30 bird Productions’ visual theatre peace, welcomed the packed Cambridge Junction’s audience with a series of beautiful images. “How cool” screamed my inner voice as the three actresses posed with vacuum cleaners as heavy war weapons. The text, voiced by the actresses and a recording of a man, recalled things being left behind and ordered, just to be left behind again and to be ordered again. It was so clever, so beautifully structured. I fancied the first staccato repetitions looping the three women and the vacuum cleaners together to tell us a story of love. Then, just as my thoughts started to emerge from their world to consider my lack of love for cleaning and washing, I was struck by the cleverly engineered bike meets vacuum cleaner, freedom meets girl image. However, as the dust particles settled, image by image, loop by loop the show gained a laborious quality.

Why so laborious? Let me say that I do not see theatre as purely a form of entertainment, and I am willing to work.  Yet the show was a first draft of a study: a rather clever attempt crammed with masses of academic theory trying to do too much.  The Iranian revolution, material culture and feminism, technology and feminism, domestic labour, women’s roles, a love story were all themes that seemingly cried for my brain’s attention. In this quest, I missed that men’s relationship to feminism were crucial part of the study and that there was no apparent war being waged.  It is a pity, I would have loved to know more about a man’s perspective. All in all, the show for me was a beautifully wrapped but unfinished study which confirmed my endless fascination with war stories.

Molly Flynn responding to Domestic Labour, A Study in Love by 30 Bird

As a big fan of both feminism and vintage-home appliances, I was really looking forward to watching 30 Bird's latest production 'Domestic Labour: A study in love'. In the play, three women recite the story of  a man and a woman and the intricacies of their relationship. The performers speak in the first person as they recount the couple's history. However, the texts are divided between the three women onstage and delivered in that rather distant, somewhat monotone style that says 'WE'RE NOT ACTING! HEY YOU, AUDIENCE, WE'RE NOT ACTING!' Partly for this reason, it was difficult to follow the narrative and to hold onto who was speaking from when and where.

You see, the stories travel across generational and national borders. One moment we are in the couple's modern day suburban home and the next we find ourselves in pre-revolutionary Iran. Well, in fact we never really find ourselves in any of the places presented onstage. The nonchalant traversal of temporal and spatial configurations, in combination with the emphatically non-illusory style of delivery, keeps the audience at arm's length. And from such a distance, it proves challenging to decipher much of a linear narrative.

But no matter, linearity be damned. Who needs a straight-up story when you've got a collection of wonderful retro-home appliances lying around? The show is billed as a collaboration between the writer/director Mehrdad Seyf and the visual artist Chris Dobrowolski, and indeed, it is the visual aspect of the play that really stays with you. Throughout 'Domestic Labour', the performers use their collection of vintage vacuums, bicycles, and other white goods to stage stunning-steam-punk tableaus of domesticity. The thing is, it takes a lot of work for them to build these fleeting moments of beauty.

The three women onstage spend most of their time pushing around the vacuum cleaners, plugging in their lightbulb helmets, fitting the bicycle wheel into the re-purposed radiator, etc. And it makes you wonder, is it really worth it? And perhaps this is the point. You are reminded of all the women, all across the globe, who perform that domestic labour day after day. You think of all the women you know, who spend years on end cleaning the same floors and folding the same laundry and, if you're lucky, you can think of some who do it out of love. Because the play's title is true, domestic labour can be a study in love.

As anyone who has tried it knows, to 'keep house' means so much more than just cooking and cleaning. To create and maintain a family home is undoubtedly a creative act that takes commitment, diligence, talent, and most of all, love. Because those fleeting moments of beauty in life, those take a lot of work, a truth that is adeptly represented in 30 bird's staging of the show.

But where, I wondered in my viewing of the performance, where is the love? I see the domestic labour. I see the inter-generational and cross-national complications. I see three women who are constantly kept busy with the seemingly mundane tasks of the everyday. But why? Why do they keep performing for us with so little passion. Is this what's come of feminism? No. It can't be. It can't be that after all these years of fighting for equality, we are still helplessly relegated to the realm of the domestic sphere, can it?

Those women onstage, why don't they stop vacuuming, I thought. Why don't they say something unexpected. Please, I pleaded with them in my imagination, just laugh too loud or make a mistake or fart or do something, anything, that tells us you are real!!!! But they didn't. They stayed steely and continued to perform their domestic labour. A shame really, because they seemed so smart and talented. They just never showed us the love.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

And from Maddy Costa...

The workshop alongside Domestic Labour: A Study in Love was led by Maddy Costa:

There are few more thankless tasks known to humankind than housework. You wash and wipe, dust and sweep, but every effort is in vain: skin continues flaking, meals need making, detritus gathers; blink and it's time to wash and wipe and dust and sweep all over again. Endless meaningless cycles without progress. No wonder patriarchal forces ordained domestic labour women's work.

It's typical of the playfulness of Domestic Labour: A Study in Love that its three female performers abandon the cycle of cleaning – with a wet cloth and a dry cloth – to pose on a bicycle, wedged incongruously in the ranks of an old-fashioned radiator. With huge coloured goggles and puffed-up hair, wielding ancient cotton-bag vacuum cleaners, the women look like models in a 1960s advertisement – an image they subvert by exploding an inner tube, makeshift insurgents enacting what small protest they can. Throughout, there are intriguing glimpses of women refusing to conform: in the memory of an Iranian grandmother who, outraged by new, progressive laws banning the chador, refused to be seen in public, instead criss-crossing the city via a ladder and its roofs; in lengthy extracts from the western Johnny Guitar, Joan Crawford sharp, self-possessed, “more man” than woman. The hangdog housewife whose voice dominates, longing for a room of her own yet not even allowed a desk, sounds insipid by comparison.

The women's stories sit on stage like pieces of broken china; it's not always clear what the connection is between them, or what generation or country they exist in. A male voice – also spoken by the female performers – could act like glue, but instead muddles the fragments of narrative further. He is Iranian, more concerned with distant revolution than dust motes on the furniture, apparently unaware of how unsympathetic he comes across. Does he really mean to suggest that his wife's pregnancy is a failing of character, since none of his previous girlfriends were so afflicted when he withdrew? The double-play with that word “withdrew” is subtle but acute. If we married in my country, the man assures his wife on their wedding day, you wouldn't be able to go out without my permission. Such are the consolations of geography.

If writer/director Mehrdad Seyf is the male force rupturing a female/feminist agenda, artist Chris Dobrowolski has a more positive influence, jolting proceedings with electricity. His fully functional helmets constructed from colanders and blenders, pedal-powered comic stunts, and ingenious solution to the need to screen Johnny Guitar, fill the stage with fun. Like a scene in which the sight of a bus at Marble Arch transports the male character to the heart of a revolution, Dobrowolski's wizardry lets us see the homely and banal in magical new ways. If only domestic labour itself could be as transformative an experience.

Georgie Grace responding to Domestic Labour, A Study in Love by 30 Bird

Three women are holding vacuum cleaners. Old vacuum cleaners, upright, fabric bags. Spotlit, draped with cables. Not only holding - wielding, cradling, baring, placing, clutching, embracing, balancing. How many ways can you deal with the same thing? How many ways can you accommodate it? These heavy vehicles, associated with solitary, hard-work housework, are moved, shifted, driven, arranged. In six hands they have become an animate multitude, a herd.

This multiplicity is transformative. Not only of the devices, but of the stories whose props they might be. What seems to be a monologue, the story of one women, is performed by three women, three voices. Sometimes there is a you (you said this, or did that) and the you is her husband, but it seems that his voice can come out of any of the three mouths. The multiplicity - a monologue cut three ways and passed around rapidly - has a magical quality. The idea of domestic labour (I change the sheets; I wipe the surfaces - first with a wet cloth, then with a dry cloth; I put away our daughter’s toys) seems to be made into its own opposite: it’s no longer solitary, repetitive, boring, thankless; it’s a choreographed team effort, actions that bounce from one pair of hands to the next, a game with the world of objects. The music is heroic. The vacuum cleaner sucks up the dust and then belches it all out in an exuberant explosion and the women, wearing goggles, appear unperturbed.

Domestic labour, like so much labour, repeats and repeats. It is a constant recreation of the present. The vacuum cleaner spits out all the dust it sucks up in a great plume of recirculation. As with so many jobs: I put the goods on the shelves, people buy them; I put more goods on the shelves, people buy them. I have a vivid memory of one day at school. I had to carry a message to the science teacher and while I was waiting for him to notice me and ask me what I wanted, I realised that he was teaching the year below me - and teaching them exactly the same thing that he had taught me, a year earlier. It sounds so obvious. Of course taught the same thing every year. It was new to us, but endlessly the same for him. Hoovering up the same dust over and over again.

Back on stage, episodes are recounted, then interrupted: we go on holiday to the South of Spain, you refuse to eat fish (interlude: an inner tube is inflated, and explodes); we collect our daughter from the hospital. Their sequence is unclear; we’re lost in time. Why three voices? Are they different women? The same woman? Are they one woman who wishes she was three people?

Maybe next time I have to vacuum I’ll pretend there are two more of me and I’ll have much more fun. Maybe what’s missing from my domestic routine is a helmet with a blender attached; perhaps if I made one I could partake in this playful, fantastical transformation of hybrid devices and escape the feeling of having done this too many times before? Because who wouldn’t rather play than vacuum? These objects belong to adult tasks but are appropriated and retooled as things for play, becoming dysfunctional, figurative, ridiculous. As when playing, the structure of the piece seems aimless, impulsive, alternately serious and distracted. We shift from the temporally indeterminate (a frog enters the house) to the definite (I watch the revolution on TV), delivered with equal gravity.

Everything is always in the present tense. A grammar of the past, relived and recirculated. Whether it’s the history of a country or of a relationship, the past is constantly brought into the present, repeated, reiterated. Whether it haunts us, disorients us, or secures us somehow, remains unclear.

Rosalind Bouverie responding to Domestic Labour, A Study in Love by 30 Bird

A poem written after watching ‘Domestic Labour: a Study in Love’.

I saw old fashioned sharp angled pastel coloured hoovers
Cradled and slung over shoulders and pushed forward ready to clean.

Pop! goes one hoover and an old tyre explodes
Hoovers are pointed like guns.
There are whisks and cafetieres on helmets on heads
An arsenal here. How does housework advance?

There’s plenty of awkward bending and switching,
Switching and bending. Watch out for those wires.
There are guaranteed interruptions
With the on switch and the off switch.

Women who can’t talk to each other or look at each other stand up
Fall down, dash, chase, rest on their backs and watch their feet do a little dance
Postures of children and babies break to a heroic stand in goggles by a bike.
There’s valiant pedalling. Pan and radiator clamp the bike into stillness.
With such grasping appliances, there’s no getting anywhere.

I hear snatches of tales told in the flattest of cadences:
The wrong restaurant in Spain
The slapping of a woman by a policeman in Iran, the sighting of a demonstration on a bus in London,
The rescue of a frog by a dad, the buying of a white bike.
Shorn experiences die amidst the paraphernalia of wire and machine.

Later, a kneeling woman cradles a television.
Now Joan Crawford commands me. Gosh that lipstick is red!
In a white dress by a tiny piano with a bright brown backdrop I hear her say
‘You can’t make me marshall.’
 Is the dialogue of film the best line?

A wondrous moment! All the dust from the hoover is blown upwards catching the light in a golden cloud!
It lands on the faces of the women below and they don’t wipe it off!
I am pleased to hear their breathing through the megaphones.

Get curious and find out their names. Blood and temper of life will flood back. Get furious. 

Leanne Moden responding to Domestic Labour, A Study in Love by 30 Bird

As I entered the theatre, ready to watch Domestic Labour: A Study in Love, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I think it’s fair to say that I’m something of a novice when it comes to writing about performance. In fact, before embarking upon this series of theatre writing workshops, my main experiences of the genre had been regular trips to Christmas pantomimes, punctuated by the odd Shakespeare play.

Suffice to say that I felt a little out of my depth.

I needn’t have worried though. Domestic Labour: A Study in Love is a compelling piece of theatre, staged with wit, humanity and humour, using the concept of domestic drudgery as a tool to examine cultural and social attitudes to gender roles within modern relationships.

But what made this show really interesting for me was the fact that its main theme was not immediately obvious. Well, not to me anyway.

In fact, the fractured narrative and stream of consciousness-style dialogue – spoken by the show’s three female performers – seemed to describe a very ordinary life, that of a housewife awaiting the return of her husband, while running a household and raising a young daughter.

The story seemed fairly unremarkable at first, and I wasn’t entirely sure that anything original was being conveyed. Still, the staging felt exciting and playful, and I was enjoying the slow unveiling of the central relationship, so I wasn’t too fussed.

It wasn’t until part way through the piece – when the dialogue shifted to discuss the previous conquests of our protagonist – that I suddenly realized that the narrative voice was male, and all my assumptions up to this point had been wrong.

While the show may not surprise everyone in the same way, my mid-point realization really forced me to consider my own preconceptions, and the insidious nature of stereotyping and assumed gender roles, which are clearly more pervasive than many of us would like to think.

For me, the best art compels us to ask questions not only of our surroundings, but also of ourselves, and I really felt that Domestic Labour: A Study in Love was successful in this respect.

Still, some aspects of the piece felt a little under-developed.

There were references to mixed race relationships and political instability in Iran, but these issues were not fully realised and so, felt a little peripheral to me. That being said, the company succeeded in creating an intimate portrayal of a relationship, in a show that was witty and engaging from start to finish.