Nhair ★★★★

Theatre is the space of the taboo. Whether it’s one of Ibsen’s domestic dramas, an in-yer-face play or even a Wildean farce, theatre has been the church of the unspoken and the unseen. Its inherently political nature – for all stories hold their own implicit politics – means that often it is a space to give voice to the topics we tend to steer clear of in polite conversation. Difficult topics are given air, whether through metaphor or humour or bluntly forthright discussion, and it is this quality that makes me excited for this art form – a quality which Conny Hancock and Greedy Pig Theatre Company’s R&D co-production Nhair plays with in beautiful fashion.

This autobiographical solo performance follows Conny in her quest towards a beautiful green garden and bodily autonomy. Diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, Conny struggles with issues of self image and the pressures of societal expectations of beauty as her symptoms present, among other things, as excessive hair growth, and it is this symptom more than any other that forms the central conflict of the piece. Through intercut scenes in doctor’s surgeries, pokey rented property gardens, and bustling pub poetry nights, we witness Conny’s journey towards self realisation and acceptance of her physical identity.

Hancock’s background as a poet is utilised with clever skill as the imagery of her barren, overworked garden is interwoven with her own struggles with her body image, and coupled with her irreverent humour, this is an entertaining and thoughtfully challenging piece. While there is still room for fine tuning with regards to plot – certain threads such as Conny’s relationship with George deserve to be teased out more – this is an accomplished R&D performance that holds promise as powerful piece of theatre.

Review by Alexandra Ricou