Review: Female Personality of the Year

Robyn Asbury 31 October 2014

The final of Channel 4’s new reality show, Female Personality of the Year, debuted with a spectacular clash of personalities, a fantastic host, and adverts that hilariously brought the subtext of female-directed products to the forefront. As an unusual bridge between a play and a sketch show, Female Personality was a refreshing depiction of issues related to representations of women in the media; it handled social commentary with subtlety and its utilisation of stereotypes felt inherently honest, not overstated.

I have to firstly commend the writers, Emma Wilkinson and Mollie Wintle, for creating a brilliant hour of comedy. Yes, Female Personality addresses some “women issues”, but don’t be discouraged from watching – it is first and foremost a comedy. You don’t need to be versed in the writings of Germaine Greer to join in the raucous laughter; in fact, the play scrutinises the eccentric and extreme women that are paraded in the media as “role models”. Through the Katie Hopkins-inspired Ruth Sharp, Olivia Le Andersen provides an excellent depiction of the stereotypical successful woman: necessarily masculine with no maternal feelings towards her children. This contrasts with the other extreme of a woman only successful because she bakes desserts. Catriona Stirling’s Kookie Lund is the popstar of Disney fame attempting to sever ties with that “past self” through reinventing her personality, and this performance is particularly notable for her comic timing (off at times, but usually great at grabbing those extra laughs). While all of the acting is fantastic, Helen Charman as TV presenter Katie Old is perhaps the most impressive performance, negotiating the charismatic front of the presenter but also exposing her underlying exasperation. The only main issue would be the end; the speech from ‘Man’ (Adrian Gray) is somewhat contradictory and seems to be attempting social commentary, but fails in leaving the audience with a final message.

I feel, however, that even in my appreciation of the performance, I am stepping away from its true success: the comedy. Female Personality does not give the impression of a Feminist diatribe, instead it makes fun of certain extreme people in the media. Most importantly, it manages to address the issue of gender without making it just about gender, a feat that many have tried and failed to accomplish. So if you want to wind-down for an hour, I highly recommend that you take a seat in this live studio audience at the ADC – it is not a performance that disappoints!

9/10

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'Female Personality of the Year' runs at the ADC Theatre at 11pm until Saturday 1st. Get your tickets online at http://www.adctheatre.com/whats-on/comedy/female-personality-of-the-year.aspx