The Bitch Manifesto by Emma Hough
What is it?
A burlesque style cabaret that fights to smash the patriarchy and reclaim the word "bitch" through music and dance that is drenched in a tasty feminist flavour.
What's it all about?
Emma Hough brings together many different kinds of theatre styles with this empowering examination of women's present position in society. She reclaims the word bitch as her own and states that this word is no longer a derogatory one but one of strength, power and all that makes women kick ass. She does so through exploring the male gaze, looking at how women are portrayed through this ever present lens and how it feels to embrace -and then quickly reject - this particular ideal. We see a range of empowered women give their spin on the word and how, through solidarity we too can claim this word as our own and fight against the oppression that is still ever present.
How did it make me feel?
I am not going to lie- I was extremely excited about seeing this show. And I did enjoy it. It is fun and Hough's tap dancing is slick and completely watchable. Her vocals are effortless and powerful. And yet the piece seems to lack the overall connection and through line that could turn it from good to outstanding.
The concept is strong, and it is clear Hough is a sound performer, but the just too long costume changes and voice overs feel unnecessary, particularly with two cast members waiting backstage to come on for the final number. I can't help feeling this was perhaps a missed opportunity for a show that displayed so many enjoyable and hilarious moments of female power. The closing number too while again entertaining and fun, feels almost too soon. With so much ground to cover, it left me thinking that there could have been so much more explored before leading up to this big finish.
This show has all the elements of a great piece of theatre and certainly is worth a watch. If not for Hough's comedy chops and killer pipes, then for the pure fun and energy the show brings throughout.