Perfectly Imperfect Women

Storyteller Danyah Miller asks what makes someone perfect and then what makes someone imperfect? She questions why we are drawn to perfection, which she describes as having finished a list. She concludes quickly that imperfection means we are human and challenged by what is around us.

Reaching this simple but sweet discovery at the beginning of the hour was problematic as it meant the rest of the piece was boring, coming from the obvious opinion that women do not have to be perfect. I am not sure if I needed to a fringe show to tell me that?

Miller’s skill at storytelling however was thoroughly enjoyable. Moments of social reflection about our values and priorities in regard to women and perfection are enhanced with her engaging talent. A leader in her field in storytelling, Miller’s enchanting and charismatic story was of a Queendom with a ruler who strived for perfection, particularly from her daughter who could never live up to her expectations.

While the social message about perfection was predictable and at moments patronising, the fictional narrative of the Queendom was highly entertaining. Miller used stage furniture and dolls within dolls as she rallied the audience, often captivating a room full of tired theatregoers in her simple children’s morality tale.

The personal reflections Miller makes as she investigates the mothers in her family are sweet and well-meaning and finally come together to tell a larger tale of resistance, persistence and constant imperfection. They do however feel self-indulgent; as Miller laments being sent off to boarding school, or even takes on her grandmother’s hardships as her own felt pain. Some of this was lost on me as the simple message of the piece became overcrowded with self-pity.

This well-meaning piece did not do much conquer the issue of the perfect woman. In fact, it reinforced the idea that women are ruled by some force within, dictating the need for perfection. Perfectly Imperfect Women seems to tell us we no longer have to be that famous Victorian Angle in the House, as if that was still at the forefront of women’s minds. It’s sad to think Miller felt she needed to articulate this because doesn’t everyone know women and all human beings, thank you very much, are multifaceted, flawed, complex, imperfect people?

Worth an hour of your time? Well hopefully you don’t need to be reminded of your own individuality and agency as a woman or simply as a human.

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Jane Prinsley

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