Lip Service, the physical comedy by Natalie Tin Yin Gan and Ashley Whitehead, is wholly satisfying (pun and innuendo intended). From the more technical aspects, such as their marked choreography and synchronization, to the show's deserved focus: Vulvas, obviously. And more specifically, issues of service, of self-acceptance, of doing-it-all, and more.
Ashley and Natalie’s sensitivity and compassion are apparent. Both to the subject matter, and to the audience. The show doesn’t frame the vulva as too sacred to be playful, or, played with, in a handful of very literal cases. This is bolstered by an obvious sense of care that permeates the entire performance. It’s evident in the intelligence of their wording, as well as in their assertions that not all people who have vulvas are women, and not all women have vulvas. Lip Service celebrates the vulva and discusses women’s socialization, while paying mind to the variety of experience and resonance their audiences may have and feel.
It's not often that sexuality, and its implicated parts, are comfortably discussed in public. Save for, perhaps, those precious and candid moments with close friends or partners. Personally, I believe this is to a detriment. Our discourse around sexual health, like our privates, remains in the damp darkness of inconspicuousness. The issues that face folks with vulvas are more difficult to face as a broader community if reproductive health, and everything surrounding it, is a topic not readily discussed. This is why I’m glad Lip Service takes the Fringe up on its offer to make and perform whatever you’d like: however shocking it may be to see two larger-than-life vulvas sprinting around a stage, cracking explicit puns, tickling one another’s lips: that is also how much it is needed.
Another really nice thing about Lip Service is: it's so incredibly fun. Natalie and Ashley engage the audience in such a jovial, skillful way that it's easy to let walls come down. Truth be told, it’s a relief. It's a relief to enjoy the playful imitation of sexual pleasure, of an uncomfortable doctor's visit, of the exhausting sense of competition many people feel. The conflicting health advice rings exhaustingly true and hilarious. Personally, I felt seen and understood, like some of my more personal experiences might not be so uncommon. For someone without the shows starring parts, I imagine it’d be a funny, approachable, informative window. Lip Service offers much wisdom, emotional and otherwise, and I highly, highly recommend this show.
Lip Service can be seen on Thursday, September 13th and 10PM; Friday, September 14th at 7:15PM; and Saturday, September 15th at 2:15PM. Tickets are available here.