The Second Woman review – stunning endurance theatre takes aim at patriarchy


Carriageworks, Sydney
Nat Randall suffers through 100 break-ups over 24 hours in an utterly compelling production

Nat Randall is about to send away her fourth lover for the evening. In a red shift and a blonde wig, she and a young man are seated at a coffee table in a square, red-carpeted sitting room. “You don’t think I’m capable,” Randall is saying to the man, who is opening a box of noodles. “And that’s what I want to be; I want to be capable.”

This is one of 100 men that Randall, playing Virginia, will meet over the course of the next 24 hours, each one playing Marty, her lover. Created by an all-female team led by Randall and Anna Brecken, and showing as part of Carriageworks’ Liveworks festival, The Second Woman is anchored in a remarkably simple conceit – to perform a single scene on loop, 100 times in a row, with only a handful of variables. The result, however, is far from simple: a stunning exposure of gendered power relations and emotional coercion.

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