tue 17/09/2019

Ayesha Hazarika, Soho Theatre review - feminism examined | reviews, news & interviews

Ayesha Hazarika, Soho Theatre review - feminism examined

Ayesha Hazarika, Soho Theatre review - feminism examined

Fascinating and often funny take on the subject

Ayesha Hazarika was once an adviser to Harriet Harman and Ed Miliband

As a former adviser to Harriet Harman and Ed Miliband – and a woman who has put her name forward to be a Labour Party candidate at a Westminster election – Ayesha Hazarika certainly knows her politics from the inside. So a show with the title Girl on Girl: The Fight For Feminism promises to be avowedly political.

For the first half, this proves to be the case, with an intelligent resumé of the past year since the Harvey Weinstein allegations (which he denies) and the start of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, from which she manages to mine a lot of sardonic humour. But then in the second half of the hour the show switches gear, as Hazarika expounds on the “girl on girl” of the title – not lipstick lesbian titillation for the blokes, she explains, but an exploration of how and why many feminists are taking the wrong approach.

There’s a mea culpa as she explains that she has debated with other women on radio and television, sometimes falling into the trap laid by male producers who want to present gladiatorial battles between women going at it from different ends of the political spectrum. It may give some people a frisson but, Hazarika admits, it’s often self-defeating for the sisterhood, and she wants feminists of all hues to be pushing in one direction than pulling in several at the same time.

This is fascinating and often funny stuff – particularly when she name-drops – but then Hazarika rather upends it by running through her “shitlist” of women who annoy her. As she says, her shitlist of men she dislikes is much longer, but even so... For the record, her shitlist here includes the very easy target of Gwyneth Paltrow (cue a very good section about cleaning vaginas) and Florence Nightingale (for giving men an excuse to be utterly feeble when they have flu). Germaine Greer – “When did she turn into Richard Littlejohn?” – and Aung San Suu Kyi, however, you may think deserve to be there.

The show has its longueurs as the jokes give way to self-examination and even a little preachiness. That's a shame as Hazarika is enormously likeable, has a cheeky wit and really knows her stuff politically. This feels less a show than a series of anecdotes, and as such doesn't engage as much as its subject matter demands.

Ayesha Hazarika is at Swindon Arts Centre on 10 November and The Lowry Salford on 17 November

Hazarika rather upends it by running through her 'shitlist' of women who annoy her


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature


A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway


Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.



This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman


Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.


Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.