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Fringe review: Harriet Kemsley: Slutty Joan @ Voodoo Rooms

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Harriet Kemsley brings to the Fringe an emotional, heartfelt show on the serious topic of #MeToo, female sexuality and sexual assault.

Despite this sometimes intense and hard-going topic, in Slutty Joan Kemsley addresses these issues through light-hearted comedy using her always-bubbly personality. 


Credit: Linda Blacker

The venue is small and was filled to the brim with people, making it feel cramped – however, the popularity of the show was indicative of its quality and the way Kemsley can engage the audience in a serious conversation through humour.

The show’s name, Slutty Joan, was inspired by a study done in which two groups of people had to describe the same woman called Joan – except one group was told she had slept with two people, and the other told she had slept with 20. The group with ‘slutty Joan’ used more negative terms to describe her, saying she was less intelligent, less likely to succeed in life, and a worse person in general. This perception about women who have more sexual partners is endemic across society, something that the #MeToo movement sought to address. 

The show starts off light-hearted, with gags about dyspraxia, growing up and incels. It takes a while to get going, but once it begins to flow it really takes off. Using her own personal experience of being labelled as a slut and experiencing sexual assault, Kemsley talks about her reaction to the #MeToo movement that came to fruition following the Hollywood sex scandals last November. In an emotional performance that has some audience members in tears, the way she addresses such a sensitive topic – intertwining it with humour, dance and music – diffuses any tension in the room without making light of the situation.

Slutty Joan is bold, funny and a must-see for anyone who identifies as a feminist (although it may be difficult to watch if you have experienced sexual assault before, so bear this in mind)!


Harriet Kemsley performs Slutty Joan at the Voodoo Rooms until 25th August. For more information click here.

This article is part of our coverage of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Click here to read other articles written by our contributors. 
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