Review | Tinted, VAULT Festival ⋆⋆⋆

Tinted is a one-woman show written by Amy Bethan Evans. Our central character, Laura (Charlotte Eyres), talks through her experience of growing up with a visual impairment, touching on themes including accessibility, societal attitudes towards disability and sexual consent. 

The piece, creatively directed by Elske Waite, frequently leaps through time. In some scenes, we see Laura during her childhood whilst playing with my little pony toys. In others, she’s a young adult working as an usher in a theatre. Laura punctuates each shift in time by recalling the type of tinted eyewear she has, ranging from glasses with oval frames too big for her head to the phase of wearing uncomfortable contact lenses.

Although the piece is lively, including psychedelic breakout dance moments, it is also fairly dialogue-heavy. The main drawback of this is that if you miss a line or two, you can easily find yourself feeling out of step with what is going on. (The rumbling sounds of tubes above the Studio Space in Waterloo and the fact that the production wasn’t mic’ed didn’t help matters either).

The piece provides an interesting critique of attitudes towards disability. Often it is not Laura’s impairment but the structure of society and the behaviours of those around her which holds her back. She tells of how her protective dad would insist on driving her to school for his own comfort rather than for Laura’s benefit. Her mother would also prevent Laura from going into town, wanting to confine her to the home.

One of the pertinent themes in the play is how Laura navigates the confusing world of sex, love and relationships as she grows older. From a young age, Laura believes that sex ed classes aren’t for someone like her, so that when she eventually finds herself in a sexual relationship she feels unprepared.

The #Metoo movement was memorably shaken up when a feature on raised sexual misconduct allegations against actor, Aziz Ansari. The debate began to extend beyond cases of sexual harassment/assault and challenged male behaviours in the bedroom and whether they make provision for a completely consensual sexual experience for the partners involved.

In Tinted, this conversation is pushed one step further as Laura explains her troubling sexual experience with her ex-boyfriend. Although he listened when she told him to withdraw his penis, she didn’t know when exactly he was going to put it in. She describes how the lines of consent here are blurred. But is it a grey area? Or does it push into sharper focus the importance of enthusiastic consent and communication during sex, especially when your partner is visually impaired? It’s an issue that may not be solved easily but pieces such as Tinted, certainly helps to bring a greater diversity of perspectives into this global debate.

Photo credit: Georgia Harris Photography.

‘Tinted’ is running at the VAULT Festival until 16 February.

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