Do you find yourself obsessively scrolling through your Facebook feed, scrutinising every post and questioning why everyone else has their dream job, boyfriend, flat and body whilst you’re still trying to work out what the ‘HD’ in ‘HD brows’ stands for?
In that case, don’t miss comedy duo Jess Brodie and Victoria Bianchi’s ‘I’ll Have What She’s Having’, showcasing this Wednesday at the Camden People’s Theatre in London.
In this hilarious yet thought provoking piece of theatre about modern day womanhood and the pressures that come with it, Jess and Victoria take to the stage to speak about their own experiences of making the ‘right’ choices in their twenties. In doing so they shatter the heavily filters masking our generation and ask the questions tormenting every millennial.
It is a classic tale of the ‘grass is always greener’. As childhood friends, the pair grew up sharing the same ambitions only to see their lives spiralling in different directions. Despite their similar age, Victoria is married with a kid and lusts after Jess’s lack of responsibility – and ability to frequently listen to Jacqueline Wilson audio books in her pyjamas. Meanwhile, Jess looks at Victoria’s picture perfect life and questions her own reckless choices as she sits in bed eating pot noodles.
An unmissable show for anyone who wants the no-nonsense and #nofilter view on what it means to be a woman in contemporary society, PlusMinus caught up with the double act to find out more…
PlusMinus: So the show sees you peeling, eating and mushing what seems like hundreds of bananas… Are you sick of them yet?
Jess: Yes, and I’m really sad about that. In the rehearsal process we spent a lot of time spitting them out, squashing them in between our fingers and wiping up banana mush on the floor so now the texture is really giving me the heave. I’m hoping it’s temporary though because I love a banana.
Victoria: One of the first performances I ever made involved eating loads of cucumber and I couldn’t eat it for about a year after that. I mean, that’s no big deal because who really cares about whether they can eat cucumber or not? But I do hope that one day I can eat bananas again.
PM: Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind ‘I’ll have what she’s having’! Who is it aimed at?
J: I think it’s aimed towards anyone who has felt like they are falling behind in life in comparison to their peers. I think it would probably ring true with a lot of young people.
V: I’d like to say that the piece is aimed at EVERYONE! I reckon it will speak most to those at a similar stage of life to us; the people who are ostensibly grown-up, but don’t feel quite as adult as they thought they would by now.
J: We’ve been friends for a long time and always had similar lifestyles and responsibilities. And then all of a sudden we’ve found ourselves both in our mid/late twenties in complete polar opposite positions and we don’t even really know how we got here. We also found it really interesting that we both look at the others life and are like ‘that. that is what I’m missing’.
PM: Do you believe that girls are under more pressure now than ever before?
V: think it’s important to take a second here to check our privilege, and to acknowledge that the pressures we feel in the West are worlds away from those faced by women in countries governed by oppressive regimes. That being said, I think that women are under a certain type of pressure to look fantastic and build a career and have children and, in so many cases, still take on the role of primary caregiver and housekeeper. It’s almost as though feminism takes two steps forward and one step back, you only have to glance at news headlines at the moment to know that’s true.
J: Yes and to give the cliche answer, it’s probably got a lot to do with social media. Everyone so heavily filters their lives it can be very easy to feel inferior. And it’s there all the time! There’s no off button. So even when you feel like crap and can’t be bothered seeing everyone else looking great and doing amazing, it’s very hard to avoid.
PM: What are your views on social media?
J: I’m addicted to it, and I think it can be great if you take it for what it is and be aware of the truth behind it, but as I said I think it’s so ingrained into us now that taking that step back from it can be really hard.
V: I lovehate it.I don’t think it’s all bad, it can be really useful for finding out about theatre and events, and for community groups. But I feel that, in general, it can exacerbate feelings of inadequacy. Looking at perfect, edited versions of other people’s lives doesn’t always boost our self-worth and I think, despite its benefits, we’d all probably be better off without it.
PM: We are told that anxiety is on the rise but is this the case or are more people just talking about it?
J: I think it’s probably a bit of both. Obviously again social media is going to contribute to that anxiety, and I think our generation (for all the crap we get) put more pressure on ourselves than ever before. I think millenials get a really bad rep that they don’t deserve. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that because I’m one of them.
V: I often wonder this. Like, were our foremothers and fathers incredibly content with their unshakeable, gendered roles and identities? Was a woman left alone to raise a family of seven for 12 hours a day free from anxiety? Like I said before, the pressures are different now, perhaps less visible or tangible. So I don’t really know the answer but I think if more people are talking about mental health more then I reckon that can only be a good thing.
PM: How can we stop comparing ourselves to others?
J: I mean it’s almost completely impossible. But I think trying to gain perspective is always a good idea. You never know the whole story. Someone is probably looking at your life and thinking ‘they’re so lucky’. Also, listen to Sunscreen by Quindon Tarver.
V: Well if I knew the answer to that I don’t think I’d be making this show! I think humans are social animals, and, as a result, comparison is part of our lives. If we can’t escape that, then I think the best we can do is make an effort to appreciate what we have going for us, rather than what we don’t have. Like, sometimes I wish I was taller and had massive boobs, but I can accept that I have other things going for me. And if self-acceptance doesn’t work there’s always leg-lengthening surgery!
PM: What message do you want to deliver to girls growing up today?
J: I suppose that you are never too late to reinvent yourself. Don’t feel like you have to do what everyone else is doing.
V: Probably keep your eyes closed at all times. Seriously, I have a two-year-old daughter and I worry about this all the time. I know I can’t protect her from the images that are out there, but I think the best thing I can do for her is to help her be confident. I honestly think that starting children’s theatre when I was 6 helped me become a really confident teenager. So maybe that’s the key, go to drama classes. Theatre really can save the world!
PM: Girls can be their own worst enemies by criticising each other rather than celebrating each other’s successes. Why is this and do you think it is changing?
V: In a word: patriarchy. We’re still tied to antiquated perceptions and rules, and until everyone lets them go then women will always be more harshly judged, by all genders.
J: I think with all the positivity that has come out of feminism being a bit more in the public consciousness that girls supporting girls is becoming more prevalent which is great. However I would like to see more diversity and inclusivity in feminism now. I really hope that is going to be a big part of the change.
PM: It is often perceived as more difficult for women to enter into comedy than it is for men – what are your views on this?
V: Women are hilarious. Men are hilarious. We need to stop seeing funny women as the exception, and comedy as a field needs to be more accepting of other experiences. This includes (but isn’t limited to) women, people of colour, people with disabilities, and those who are trans and non-binary. I want to hear about everyone’s funny, fucked up lives, because I’m incredibly nosy, so hopefully material like this will start to be forefronted a bit more.
PM: What are your future plans?
J: The show is still technically a work in progress so we are still in the early stages, but we’d love to take it to other festivals!
PM: In a sentence, why should people go and see your show?
J: To laugh and hopefully recognise themselves in some of the stories we tell.
V: At the least it will amuse you and at best it will help you work some shit out.
You can see ‘I’ll have what she’s having’ Wednesday 22nd March at the Camden Peoples Theatre, London. Expect laughter, tears and lots of bananas…
For more information and to buy tickets visit the Camden People’s Theatre website.