Anna Hadley reviews Nine Foot Nine at the Edinburgh Fringe
Sleepless Theatre Company’s Nine Foot Nine is a brave new concept where all the women on earth suddenly grow nine foot tall.
Yet, ultimately this topic isn’t too far from our current reality. This is definitely a sci-fi production, with its fondness for silver paint, but it prompts questions pertaining to our own human experiences. As it reverses the old-age argument that women are the ‘weaker’ sex due to their bodily frames, it calls into question gender roles, and asks whether this newfound physical change would lead to gender liberation for women, or not.
By focusing on two central characters, Nate (Paul O’Dea) & Cara (Alexandra James), who are about to have a baby, we explore the domestic tensions that this newfound stature exerts upon Nate’s desire to care and provide for Cara, and how his comparative smallness affects his own idea of masculinity. At the heart of this play is power structures, and it reveals our own attachment of power to the male physique.
Nevertheless, if it asks questions, this show doesn’t answer them. Perhaps this is not the role of a theatre production, but there are a lot of loose threads in Nine Foot Nine which can be confusing. I found myself wishing throughout for a little more context or reasoning, especially for the unexplained female growth.
I do however, want to draw attention to the casting, which was thankfully diverse in an otherwise very white and middle-class arena. In particular, the close captioning for any deaf members in the audience is noteworthy. Unfortunately, there are otherwise too few shows at the Edinburgh Fringe which enable access for deaf people, but this is one of them.
Ultimately, this is a promising production, and with a few trimmings, it would have the potential to grow.