Amongst many other unique productions at Edinburgh Fringe, Feeling Pretty is a new piece available to stream on demand. With a cast doubling as the creative team, this production emphasises the reclamation of femininity for women who feel that their power has been lost in the world today.
Set in the recording studio of 'Good Time Radio', the three guest singers, Raquel, Belle and Michelle (Ariella Barnett, Amy Reed and Liné Koen respectively) motion through a series of tracks- many recognisable- demonstrating the reoccurring battle against harassment and misogyny that gets progressively wearing. The concept of this is shown in several ways: the effects of heckles from men 'in the audience', having to promote some partially humorous but equally demoralising adverts in the breaks, a questionable selection of phone line requests, and their male boss not listening to their desires, are among these. Soon to try and flip the narrative, the three hope to change the perception of women, particularly considering the issues raised are not limited to the past, and are still very prominent today.
Displaying a vintage feel and 40s or 50s style swing demeanour, it is unclear at which time the show is portraying, as the range on the score has older tracks, as well as modern pop. Including 'Say A Little Prayer For You', 'Blurred Lines', 'This Is Me', 'You Don't Own Me' and many more, vocally, the trio have moments of beautiful harmonies through their own spin on the familiar songs, often complimenting each other well. Solo renditions take place further through the show, and are equally enjoyable to see the individual skill of the artists.
Visually, the piece is not especially outstanding, due to its basic nature. The majority of the action is seen to occur in the same space which is largely just a stage, with minimal additions. In conjunction with the overall lack of dialogue to build a storyline, the volume of numbers might mean that although dubbed as a musical, it could be argued that the show is more on the song cycle side. The neat choreography brings some extra enthusiasm, and often deeper meaning, especially on elements like 'Barbie Girl', where the moves are seen as doll-like.
Written and directed by Ariella Barnett, Feeling Pretty is an interesting perception of the suggestive focus on women. Despite the ending not seeming revolutionary, the conversation on the topic is necessary as the frustration caused by sexism is still all too common. If watching the streamed version, the recording isn't brilliant, but a suitable alternative if seeing it live isn't available.
Review: Hannah Crouch