– Sophie James
To start off Fringe festival 2017 I saw ‘Drunk girl’ performed by Canadian Thea Fitz-James.
It spoke out to me as a woman in a climate of denial in women’s issues, the stereotypes of young females who drink and those that come with being female.
Thea talks about her school yearbook and students writing a sentence summarising themselves a decade down the line. Some write “wherever my feet will take me,” her friend writes “jail” but becomes psychologist, an interesting commentary on career culture. Thea writes she will be drunkenly singing total eclipse of the heart.
With music breaking the scenes up, setting up flashbacks we learn Thea wants to be like her mother. She takes us to her youth, not old enough to buy alcohol but old enough to know the tricks to get others to get it for you.
She talks about how scientists have shown that woman can’t drink as much as men but are pressured by societal expectations to drink as much as men, then ridiculed for the attempt.
There is a special relationship between a woman and her wine, I’m sure we can all relate, but we shouldn’t be shamed for it.
Thea recognises the difference between the sexes. For example, females can be called a ‘slutty drunk’ an ‘emotional drunk’ or a ‘crazy psycho drunk’ but there is no equivalent for men. There is no ‘dickhead drunk’ for men, which she details.
The music then takes us to another flashback in her life, in college drinking with friends, but she can’t feel anything but a hot breath against her neck. There are many things that stuck with me from Thea’s performance but the one thing that really made my heart sink is when she says in drink-driving incidents no one assumes a driver’s fault is due to their gender, but when two drunk people collide it becomes a matter of gender. It’s the lawyers asking females ‘What were you wearing?’ ‘Did you eat at all that day?’ ‘How much did you drink?’
Thea tells this in a way that frames herself as a lawyer and and the audience, the burden laden plaintiffs. I was shocked that this situation has never occurred to me but someone I felt sad, ashamed and heartbroken that others have to endure such probings. At the end of the act she says, ‘You don’t remember anything, well we will let the guy fill it in.”
What impresses me is the audience, the varying ages between the fifty of us and even though the performance was about drunk women and our the female circumstance, men were in the pews, listening and actually trying to understand. Thea gets the audience involved often, having us sing songs and even inviting a woman to drink.
She ends her performance with a monologue about the present, where we are and where we’re meant to be. This show isn’t just about alcohol, it is about the relationship women have with alcohol and how societal perceptions. She finishes her routine drunkenly singing Total Eclipse of the Heart.
Drunk girls next performances at Fringe are Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 25th, you can purchase your tickets online.