Now that we are in something of an aftermath of the #MeToo movement, it seems like interest has ebbed a bit, but I think we can all agree the movement’s work is far from done. In dressed., a co-production between friends Lydia Higginson, Josie Dale-Jones, Olivia Norris, and Nobahar Mahdavi, the focus is not on the violence, but on the healing that came after it for Higginson, who spent months after being stripped and robbed sewing and creating her own clothes. The show explores friendship, recovery, the fear of losing your voice among a sea of stories, and whether, as Virginia Woolf wrote, “it is clothes that wear us and not we them.”
This is a deeply personal show, and one that communicates far more through its dramaturgy than through words to give a sense of what it was like for Higginson and her friends after the incident took place. Dance and physical theatre play an important role in talking about seeking support and feeling alone; in one scene Higginson crawls from one friend to another, all with their eyes closed, and the authentic effort it takes is a beautiful representation of trying to trust in the people around you after your trust in humanity has been shaken. The on-stage sewing is oddly hypnotic, and wordlessly powerful.
The show is structured as an interplay between the particular talents of the cast; Dale-Jones’s acting, Norris’s dance, Mahdavi’s singing, and Higginson’s dress-making all stitched together over the hour-long run time. At times some scenes feel as though they are included for the sake of demonstrating all of their individual skills, or for some unspoken personal meaning. Though some contribute more to the show's themes than others, but they are well performed. The entire cast are remarkably talented, Mahdavi’s Lana Del Ray-esque voice in particular will send shivers down your spine, and Higginson has a dreamy detachment that breaks your heart. As the show strays into meta-territory it finds a middle-ground between melancholy and anger, between the personal and the political, and between comforting its audience and concerning them. Reclaiming your body and your life may take more than a change of clothing, but that journey makes for a tender and moving autobiographical piece. Four stars.