You Could Drive a Person Crazy- or what is not your business.

What Company did, was recognise that. To show we aren’t all just waiting around for Prince Charming to fix things. And even if he did, would we recognise him? Show him the door? Be just too busy? Or would we even be happy anyway? Would we, have we, missed our Theo? Could we or should we be happy with an Andy (I mean for more than a night, we could all enjoy him for a night). Or even PJ? Are we being, as our friends frequently say ‘too fussy’? Or should in fact we stay busy, do the things that make us happy, and have standards? Because after all we are pretty great- as Bobbie is too great- to waste it on those men. Or are we? And so it goes.

I wrote these words in my response to Company (which you can read here) were quoted back at me with the suggestion that I need to seek help from Sex and Love Addicts anonymous. By a male theatre professional. 

I’ll let that sink in. My review of this powerful, masterful show and my- as a woman in her mid thirties, like the protagonist- identifying with her, means I need professional help. 

Parking for a moment, the implications of telling someone that. This response for me illustrates exactly why Company was needed and how grossly some are still misunderstanding it. 

All those things I describe above, all those things are utterly normal for a woman. That’s like, a Tuesday, in thought processes. That’s also a lifetime of little adventures in love and life added up and distilled. That is the point of what Marianne Elliott’s stunning production shows us inside Bobbie’s head. That’s the point, no the reason, that a female led Company is the only version that could be staged, and have any real impact in 2018. 

When I say that single women ‘fall in love’ (ok or in lust) 20 times a day I don’t mean some unhealthy, obsessive, fixation. We’re not going full Fatal Attraction at any given moment. I mean that we see a person on the street, we imagine for a moment what a date, a kiss and yes ok sex might be like. Because they’re there and you’re bored and they’re hot. Or even if they’re not. 

More accurately it’s that thing where you go out on one date, or meet someone at a party, or even just match on a dating app. Or hell have a crush. And you imagine the future. The next week future, the New Years Eve Future, yes the wedding yes the babies. And sometimes it’s a Disney fantasy, sometimes yes, it’s a fucking sexual one because women are sexual beings. And sometimes, its a ‘oh fuck what have I gotten into’ one, of doom and boredom and oh shit I’ve made a mistake. 

And all of that is ok. All of that happens to all of us. Again, that’s the point of Elliott’s version. Women go through this, and then they go through the big questions; my life will change if I commit to this. If I decide I want this I will lose something, everything will change if I take this road. And it’s hard, and it’s gut-wrenching. And it’s a choice we all have to make. And I still applaud every second of that production for telling me so. 

And I resent the fact that it moving me- and 100s, hopefully 1000s of other women, because it reflected our everyday experience- got twisted into there’s something ‘wrong’ that needs fixing in me. 

And I feel I shouldn’t be defending this. But if someone said this to me, made me feel this way, I feel like I should use my small platform to say it for others. 

So let me say is now: every woman who identified with Bobbie, there is nothing wrong with you. There is nothing at all wrong with you. 

And there is nothing wrong with me. I do not need to seek ‘Treatment’ because I am 34 and single. I do not need treatment for the opportunities I missed. I do not need treatment if I go on dates and enjoy it (generally I don’t, I mean have you been on a date? it’s like a job interview). 

Moreover, it is not the place of a man to send an email to a woman he does not know telling her any of these things. 

However well intentioned. However much they think it comes from a place of caring or concern. You do not, I repeat do not, say to a woman you do not know, whose relationship history you do not know, whose life and even potential past trauma you do not know. You do not tell that woman she has issues with sex and relationships. You certainly do not tell that woman how beneficial seeking treatment would be. 

Because that in part is where some of this production comes from: men think women’s love lives and yes their sex lives, are their business. But continue to be the property of men. I could have brushed off this email, but I strongly feel I owe it to all women to speak up on even the smallest of these things. Not to just brush them off as ‘oh men’ or ‘no big deal’. Because this is a big deal.

Not to mention I wrote this review in my professional capacity (no matter what the person in question thinks of that). And my professional work is not an invitation to comment on my private life.

That they believe they are within their rights to have an opinion and to give that woman their opinion. Let me say it right here and now: you do not have that right.

In closing however, I defer to a woman older and wiser than I am whose response to this tale was ‘It’s fucking rude.’

And it is. And that’s why I’ve spoken up. 

Published by Emily Garside

Academic, journalist and playwright. My PhD was on theatrical responses to the AIDS epidemic, and I continue to write on Queer theatrical history. Professional nerd of all things theatre.

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