Rowena Hutson: Strong Female Character | Review by Steve Bennett
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Rowena Hutson: Strong Female Character

Review by Steve Bennett

There is a great message in Strong Female Character, and a great catharsis for Rowena Hutson. Unfortunately, it’s not a great show. It’s an attempt to square her two loves: ‘action films and equality’, and it turns out as strained as that sounds.

Hutson grew up in Australia as a tomboy – even convinced she may have been born in the wrong body, although that turned out to have been absorbed from her father’s job as a leading expert on intersex birth complications.

She’s always loved action heroes like Indiana Jones, Wolverine and John McClane – and starts with a montage of all five Die Hards in five minutes. It’s not specially inventive, just play-acting cops and robbers, but leaving her smeared in fake blood for a suitable badass look for the rest of the hour.

We then learn of all their heroic attributes; then of the fact that they are not exactly feminists icons. Hutson presents this as a major revelation – doing the ‘mind blown’ mime after exposing each offence, but it’s surely no surprise. Especially to an audience who go and see a show about action heroes and equality in a liberal arts festival.

Hutson tells this way too straight, it feels more like a dissertation than a comedy show, even if she does enliven it with light turns of phrase and her own charming, matey delivery – including dances as she goes through her list of positives and negatives

There’s a change in tone in the second half, when even these minor concessions to comedy are ditched for a formative and uncomfortable story from her teenage years. This is the catharsis, as she learns the right lesson from the experience and wants to share that message with others.

Strong Female Character feels as if this should be a Theatre In Education tour visiting schools to instruct youngsters about Issues – capital I – as they become sexually active. But is that what you really want from a comedy show?

Review date: 28 Aug 2016
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Laughing Horse at the Counting House

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