Upon entering the endearingly dilapidated Limehouse Town Hall there’s already a buzz of anticipation in the air. QM finalists Pussy Patrons have attracted quite the crowd for their specially curated evening of Feminist performance, a Cabaret of Cunts involving puppetry, spoken word, music and of course, the Pussy Patrons themselves.
Originally coming together as part of GPP (Group Practical Project) in second year, Pussy Patrons have continued to develop their work as a performance troupe, refining and expanding upon the Cabaret’s original form. Compered by Elyssa Livergant’s glamorous alter ego Polly Parton (sister to Dolly), the night wasn’t just about the performances on show. A series of speakers talked about the work of Irish abortion rights collective Speaking for I.M.E.L.D.A., QM graduate Emer Morris’ upcoming verbatim performance about the Focus E15 Mothers, and the activist group Sisters Uncut. All were inspiring and empowering causes, adding to the melee of brilliant women coming together to make it an evening to remember.
Kicking off the first half was poet Leanne Moden, with her witty, touching poems about sex, the female body and opportunity setting the tone for an inspiring evening of women being brilliant. Next up, Bristol’s Tight Theatre performed an excerpt of their Edinburgh Fringe piece PUSSY, exploring sexuality and sexualisation in a whimsical physical theatre style that is distinctly their own. They engage with topics of masturbation and shaming as well as with Beyonce’s more problematic lyrical past with a deftness and comic timing that didn’t compromise the sincerity of the issues they were tackling. I would definitely recommend checking them out when they next visit London. Folk duo Molly and Jess ended the first half with hauntingly beautiful harmonies and forthright lyrics about the historical oppression of women, and Kate James Moore of Commedia Puppets brought a touch of playfulness to her feminist puppetry reworking of Hamlet, Ophelia’s Garden for those who ventured downstairs during the interval.
With a focus on the female body in all its glorious messiness (fortunately they put down a tarpaulin first), Pussy Patrons took to the stage in the second half for a glorious and at times downright disgusting show of feeling like a woman. With a little help from their old friend Shania Twain and a whole host of other pop culture references, body shaming and objectification were exposed, pubes celebrated and pussies proudly patroned. Comedy, spoken word, dance, song, the Cabaret of Cunts has it all, tied up nicely with an emotive core proving why we still need feminism today. The audience reaction said it all, with half the audience giving them a standing ovation before the performance had even finished.
The night ended with a party, reinforcing the celebratory nature of the Cabaret of Cunts. Yes serious issues were tackled, but more than that, womanhood in all its forms was flaunted in a fiesta of femininity. It wasn’t just about the Pussy Patrons, it was for patrons of pussies everywhere.