By Freya Parr
For a highly impactful and relatable exposé on female drinking, look no further than this. Drunk Girl, a one-woman show brought to us by Thea Fitz-James, is a superbly curated evaluation on women’s drinking and how it is viewed alongside instances of sexual assault in today’s society.
Fitz-James uses a conversational style of address to discuss these contentious issues, and within seconds of opening the show she has the audience entirely on her side and has gained their trust. She introduces us to two differing characters, both of whom are clearly intrinsically linked to her personal relationship with alcohol. The first is a younger version of herself, who parties hard and lives in the moment – someone it was clear most of the audience associated with.
The other character is an older middle-aged academic, who relies too heavily on alcohol and is entering into dangerous territories of alcoholism. The way in which Fitz-James unravels both narratives mean that we can so clearly see how the elder character became unknowingly reliant on drinking. It is this character, we learn, that represents Fitz-James’s mother, and mirrors the fears of what Fitz-James fears she may become. The use of props and staging was incredibly effective in visualising this process, with wine disappearing from the glass without the speaker realising, and being forced to continually top up.
The narrative becomes gradually focussed on the issue of sexual assault, which I was interested to hear later when speaking to Fitz-James (ironically, at the theatre bar) was the root of the project itself and her reason for writing a piece on female drinking. What was particularly impactful about this piece was the constantly changing style of delivery.
Amongst other interactive moments, the audience partook in a chanting-style drinking song that we slowly realised was about screwing underage girls. We had blindly followed in the typical fashion, and it was an incredibly stomach-churning realisation that our culture of group drinking helps instigate intrinsically damaging mentalities towards sexual assault.
What Drunk Girl did so successfully was make us realise the familiar scenario of being both empowered and shamed by being drunk, and how this is an essentially female trait, with men never being viewed in this way. Fitz-James should be applauded for bringing up this issue as a fundamental aspect of female sexual assault victims. Women are shamed for their drinking habits in scenarios of sexual assault, and their narratives are undermined as a result.
Drunk Girl is appearing at Fringe World until 25th January, running on Tuesday and Wednesday night.