Review: Eilidh MacAskill’s STUD at Manchester’s Queer Contact Festival
February 25, 2016
Eilidh MacAskill’s STUD is hilarious. If I’d been told before seeing it that a piece comprised largely of obscure horses metaphors and penis innuendos could be so brilliantly clever and insightful I probably would have been skeptical, but alas, skepticism out the window, I’ve seen it and I’m 100% won over. It sounds odd, and it is totally, totally mad, but there’s something masterful in creating something so completely off-the-wall and yet somehow so accessible that it has pretty much the whole audience rolling around with laughter.
MacAskill as a performer holds nothing back, quite literally. When the blurb mentioned her undeniable femininity, needless to say I didn’t see the arseless chaps coming. MacAskill appears in full cowboy attire, made ridiculous by the chaps framing her exposed buttocks. The lights bare down unrelentingly on the audience, ourselves exposed as she slowly and deliberately climbs the stairs in silence, chomping on a presumably phallic carrot – fantastically uncomfortable for the audience. And MacAskill totally owns it, her sense of timing impeccable as she unapologetically revels in prolonging and intensifying the palpable awkwardness before launching into her first sketch.
MacAskill rejects dualistic notions of gender by mischievously poking fun at stereotypes of masculinity and femininity. She skilfully throws light on the utterly absurd but nevertheless very prevalent notion that one’s genitals can inherently determine one’s personality. In the space she constructs men are smug intellectuals, beard-strokers and self-professed DIY extraordinaires, and girls nurse toy babies and love ponies. Sound familiar? Sure, but in MacAskill’s world, it is the arbitrary nature of these distinctions which underpin the sketches and give way to their hilarity.