Embracing female sexuality?
By Caitlin McGrane
It’s difficult to know where to begin with this production. The show was full of promise – tantalisingly suggesting that ‘sex, love and the space in between’ would be embraced and examined by Scottish chanteuse Scarlett Belle. And indeed the evening started promisingly enough with Eyes Wide Shut-esque masks handed to the audience on their way in, and the opening song that cleverly played on the idea that little girls dream of marrying millionaires, if only to exploit them for money. I started off really rather enjoying the no-holds-barred nature of Scarlett Belle’s exploration of young female sexual identity,,but as the performance went on I admit I started to fall out of love with her brand of sexual emancipation that seemed to involve disparaging sex workers and women who lead sexually adventurous or risqué lives.
This performer does have a wonderful singing voice, and the potential to be very funny, but as the performance went on I started to become uncomfortable with how the stories were played out – where her character seemed to have no agency, instead appearing incredibly and worryingly passive in her behaviour, while still trying to make people laugh. The scene transitions were also confusing – going from an awfully sad story about an extra-marital affair into the whimsical and playful scene transition music without any emotional pause or consideration.
I really wished I could have enjoyed this more; I am a sex-positive feminist, and the moralising concluding monologue really upset and bothered me in the way it chastised young women and girls for their sexual appetites and behaviour. If Scarlett Belle wants us to learn from her character’s mistakes, I think it would be better to critically examine why one’s sexual history can be retrospectively unfulfilling, rather than encouraging women to find love (as if it’s something one can just do).
Scarlett Belle showed some great talent, so I hope she will continue to grow and develop as a performer. I think I ultimately interpreted the sex-comedy writing as rather trite, and had hoped for more as we really could do with more women exploring sex and sexuality without shame of either oneself or others.
Scarlett Belle’s Scarlet Letters is showing at The Butterfly Club until 14 February 2016. For more information and tickets visit: https://thebutterflyclub.com/show/scarlett-belle-s-scarlet-letters