Rating: ★★★★★
Venue: Harlow Playhouse
Cast: Amy Stephenson-Yankuba and Rio Montana Topley

Remember that time you pooed yourself in public? Or when you swore at your mum for asking you to tidy your pigsty of a room? Maybe you’re still blushing over the time someone pointed out your cellulite when you were getting changed for PE in year 11. The Nasty Girls are here to tell you about their most shameful moments in full, uncensored detail. This autobiographical, confessional piece of theatre explores the hidden side of what it means to be a woman. Surprise! We’re just people. And people are pretty gross.

It's a rare occasion that I leave a show and feel instantly compelled to rush home and share my thoughts. It's an even rarer occassion that after a show, I feel confident enough to approach the cast and explain how seen I felt throughout the production, but tonight, I did just that. And it seems only fitting this International Women's Day to celebrate this incredible show written by Amy Stephenson-Yankuba and Rio Montana Topley, and produced by Katja de la Fuente.

After successful runs in Camden, London, Norwich, Edinburgh and Colchester, NASTY is now embarking on a national tour. NASTY is an autobiographical piece written by duo Amy and Rio. Independent theatre needs our support now more than ever, and this show is exactly the kind of representation the industry needs. Raw, empowering, honest and truly one of a kind. This is a story that deserves to be seen.

NASTY looks at the transition from a child, to a woman - and all that comes with that change. Emotional, physical, and everything in between. It's messy, and imperfect, raw, and relatable, hilarious, and touching. The play tackles the stereotypes that women are met with daily, and smashes them to pieces. The pair have created an environment that feels safe, which is incredibly hard to achieve. You find yourself happy to open up about your own experiences with the encouraged audience participation (though not mandatory), and it also allows you the opportunity to feel whatever you need to feel. I found myself tearful throughout, which I wasn't expecting at all.

The evening is broken down into many anecdotes. Some funny, others heart-wrenching; but all impactful. The show opens with a sexy dance to "Pony" by Ginuwine, with the duo dressed in skimpy clothes covered in drawn-on pubes; it definitely sets the tone for the evening. We're then taken on a journey of body positivity, and the less-than-straight path it takes to reach the point of self-love and acceptance.

If you're looking for an evening full of talk of masturbation, farting, periods, pooing, vaginas - and all manner of "unladylike" topics, this is the show for you. They're taking taboo topics, and treating them as normal, which they absolutely are. For this reason, I think it's a piece of theatre for every gender and every age. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, it's doing its job of tackling important issues.

I will mention that the show focuses quite heavily on eating disorders, which is explicitly expressed before the show begins. It can become quite intense and overwhelming at times, but they do offer support after the show, if needed. Again, helping to create a space that feels safe and welcoming. 

I can not recommend NASTY enough, and I'll be making a repeat visit when the show stops off at the Union Theatre in London, this April. This is an incredibly important piece of theatre that I'll be talking about for a long time. You'll come away feeling empowered, embracing every part of yourself, and accepting that it's okay to be "nasty". You'll laugh until you cry, and cry until you laugh - and I simply don't think there can be a better review than that.

NASTY is currently touring the UK. You can buy tickets here.

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