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Review: Ten Women at the Ovalhouse Theatre

Ten Women is a work in progress and therefore to call this a review is a little unfair. Written by Bethan Dear it isn't so much a drama as a presentation of ideas about women and body image.

The group of women use a mixture of performance styles. For example, they take it in turns reading excerpts from a diary cataloguing pre-pubescent thoughts about their  body through to when they are in their late 20s, then there are mantras about particular moments of empowerment and rituals which are acted out by one or two while recited by another.

It isn't subtle, it's a didactic piece and a gentle introduction to feminist thinking for the uninitiated but it is done with fun and vigor. The message is clear, women's bodies have been hijacked by the world and this is a call to arms to reclaim individuality and naturalness without guilt.

The most powerful sequences within it for me were the advertising audition sequence serving to show how woman's bodies are used to promote almost everything and equally how fickle the industry is about what it defines as beauty.

And then at the end, for a moment my heart sank when some of the actors started taking their clothes off but the final message they presented was probably the most challenging of the piece. They invited the audience to look at their bodies and then asked: "What do you see? What do you think when you look? And why do you think what you think?"

Ten Women steers away from some obvious targets - no overt men bashing - rather it primarily challenges women which is refreshing but equally raises its own series of questions. It's only 40 minutes long and is on at the Ovalhouse Theatre until May 31.