Created by the Direct Theatre Collective, Hysteria explores sexuality and a potential future after the #MeToo movement. While the performances are brave and the thought behind the show is admirable, the ideas do not clearly come together.
Written by Jill Raymond and directed by Eleanor Felton, Hysteria takes many forms, from song, to scene, to a dance party with some members of the audience. There are many funny moments, as well as deeply uncomfortable ones, especially in the song about sex stories. But it is difficult to know how this all fits together.
Set in a futuristic world, although maybe not so far removed from our own, the vignettes are strung together through a story about a new consent app, which sounds just as creepy as it is. Based on a real app created by a Dutch company, these ideas are potent and hit close to home.
Coming across like an episode of Black Mirror, it makes us think about technology and society through a narrative that is simultaneously removed from our own, and yet close enough to our own.
Hysteria often feels like it is spoon feeding its messages to the audience, shouting them out when we are already on board. The intimate moment at the end of the show where the cast shares personal facts about themselves and their histories with sexual abuse are a glimpse of vulnerability, but it comes a little too late to be powerful. Despite this, Hysteria is an empowering show with brave performances by a group of talented women. Or I should say, “cool modern women”.
Hysteria continues at The Cultch as part of the Vancouver Fringe Festival. Visit vancouverfringe.com for tickets and information.