“What do you think of when you hear the word ‘woman’?” This show is a poignant and extremely moving exploration of womanhood, following the true story of Ana Daud and how her experiences have affected her during her life. This brave show is an insight into abuse, loss and exploitation within a patriarchal society where women are not always given the opportunities and freedom that their male compatriots receive.
The piece raises questions around abortion, abuse, sex work, and mental health – all issues that we as a society should be talking about more and which are often still taboo. Daud takes the audience on a journey, showing us her psychological struggles and enabling us to understand her better: to understand Ana means to understand women. Although a personal story, this piece relates to all women one way or another, irrespective of their life experience as Daud examines gender relations and the institution that is marriage. The use of music and sound were highly affecting, although the transitions from one track to the next could’ve been smoother. The pre-recorded voice-over and video footage complemented Ana’s live performance well, changing the tone of the piece, and painting pictures in our minds of the traumatic experiences women have to go through.
One moment I found particularly touching was when Daud invited someone to join her on stage to talk to them about ageing, becoming a mother and then a grandmother, and the obstacles that can arise over time due to personality clashes and biological deterioration. This performance aims to encourage us to have a better understanding of each other, and reminds us that as human beings we need one another. With the rise of capitalism, and an obsession with the self as we post endless selfies online to show how amazing we are, we ought not to forget that needing others is not a weakness, but a strength, and we all need others to be able to cope with life and get through tough times. This powerful one-woman show exploring the pressures on men and women and the shame that comes with them is a triumph, and I hope to see it at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer!