Photo by Ben Hopper
Photo by Ben Hopper

Originally written for Exeunt

Princess. Diva. Popstar. Chef. The many hats that women wear are suspended above us as we take our seats for a 20 minute ‘flight’ through womanhood courtesy of writer Talia Randall and aerialist Maddie McGowan. During the course of the performance we are asked to put them on as Randall elaborates on the phases of life in which each one is most prominent, and argues that women in fact end up wearing them all.

Starting out in a duvet and captain’s hat, shedding layers of expectation both physical and imposed, Randall eventually brings us to herself, simply dressed in leggings and a sheer top. As a journey through womanhood, Expectation is itself at times a little too heavy handed, but it is ultimately and depressingly impossible not to have any moment of it ring true for you; regardless of gender.

Flash photography is actively encouraged during one portion of the performance, which certainly led to a personal assessment of my own distaste for being photographed, sat as I was opposite the other half of the audience and directly in the view of their now aloft iPhones. It is questions like this that Expectation has time neither to ask nor answer, but does graze upon.

Maddie McGowan’s aerial work hints at entrapment, desire, longing and the consuming drive for perfection. It is interesting to assess what it is we are watching as we observe her performance; with much of the conversation directed towards physical ideals, one cannot help but be obsessed by the body when observing an aerialist at work.

Though perhaps a bit harsh at times, Expectation has much of the giddy familiarity of Caitlin Moran’s How to Be A Woman and is a thoughtful look at a lifetime of moulding oneself, only to realise that everyone else has been doing it all along.

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