Review: Oh Yes Oh No

Battersea Arts Centre 12th -23rd November (not 17th) 8pm
BSL performance on 19th November

It’s been nearly 24 hours since I’ve seen this show and I am still processing it. ‘Oh Yes Oh No’ is not like anything I’ve seen before. It is incredibly honest and also off the wall.

Writer/performer Louise Orwin tells us that this is ‘not a show about female desire but it is about what it is like to attempt to understand your own experience of desire and sexuality when you live in a culture which tells you day in and day out that sexuality if not for you’.  This is a performance that combines a very light playfulness with discomfort. The audience is an active participant even in its passive state, watching everything unfold.

Upon entering the space there is humming, throbbing kind of industrial soundtrack. Louise is sat on a chair dressed in black, her hair long and white  – a life sized doll. And then you see the exact same set up but in miniature with a Barbie doll sat on a chair. There is a beautiful kitsch aesthetic to Kat Heath’s set design, which I loved.

Louise then introduces herself, speaking through a microphone, which distorts her voice into something plastic and robotic. Initially I found this a little jarring, as it was all I could focus on. However I did quickly get used to it and it is an incredibly effective use of sound, particularly in how it very quickly creates this idea of fantasy and play.

We are told this is a fantasy space. An audience member becomes part of the action and is representing all of us. There is a particular excitement that comes into a room with this kind of interaction and I love the idea how depending on the person, this could greatly shift the energy in the room.

There is also a large screen at the back onto which text is shown throughout the show. The way this is utilized throughout the play gave me a sense of a kind of dystopian karaoke (which is a great thing!) and also conjured up a sort of J.G Ballard mood.

Oh Yes Oh No walks a line throughout of fun and games but with the threat of danger, always the threat of danger and manages this intricate balance with great consideration but also utter rawness.  This is a piece of theatre that cannot fail to move its audience in some way though do please note it may be very triggering for some people.

The sound design by Alicia Turner was bold and effective. The use of voiceovers was really powerful and proved to me that when done right, a voiceover can really feel like a physical presence in a space.

Finally, Louise Orwin. Wow.

This is a thought-provoking piece of theatre at its boldest. 

© Sarah Browne 2019

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Image © Alex Brenner 2019

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