Adelaide Festival Review 2019: The Second Woman

What: The Second Woman
Who: Nat Randall and Anna Breckon
Where: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
When: 4pm Sunday 10th March – 4pm Monday 11th March

I have been thinking extensively about The Second Woman since I watched it today. I visited twice in the space of 24 hours, once at midnight, once at midday, and both for a period of a few hours. It was stunning and addictive.

To summarise, The Second Woman is a performance piece in which Nat Randall sits in a small red cube, wearing a red dress, waiting. A man enters, they interact. They eat, they drink, they dance, he leaves. The next man enters. This goes on for 24 hours. 100 men.

Things that seem accidental in the first scene happen again and again. The men speak the same lines, with allowances for ad lib responses here and there, yet they each deliver them so differently. You realise the weight of a word, how different it feels coming out of each man’s mouth, and how much it changes the situation when a man chooses another.

With six cameras focusing on the scene, one on each Nat and the man’s face, each time something happens, you can see minute details. Nat twitches a lip, the man looks down nervously. Body language holds so much more value than any other play I have seen.

The power imbalance is fascinating. In my time viewing the performance, while there are a few men that try and dominate the scene, for the most part they seem respectful. Still, when a man tries to toe the line, Nat Randall reinforces it. She holds the power, they better not forget it.

In the audience, people whisper. They exchange how long they have been there for, the highs and lows of the men’s performances. The voyeurism is so alluring, Nat and the men’s intimacy so enthralling. Time passes so quickly, we have suddenly been in the theatre for three hours. We whisper, let’s just stay for one more, but we stay for two more, three more. It’s so hard to leave. Even now, I wish I were back there.

I can’t rave enough about this performance, I wish I could give it more than 5 out of 5 stars.

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