Rosie Wilby: 90s Woman - Summerhall, Edinburgh, Fri 2 May 2014
A poignant and enjoyable show, but don't expect any profound political insights
The early 1990s cut and paste workings of York University feminist student paper, Matrix, might not have penetrated the British public’s wider consciousness. But that’s not going to stop Rosie Wilby from trying hard to make it seem more relevant than it probably was. And boy, does she have to try hard.
This hour-long show doesn’t exactly begin with a jaw-dropping premise and the material which is formed around it fails to rise much above smile-worthy. And on this night, in a rather ideal lecture hall setting, technical gremlins play utter havoc with the show’s flow: we laughed once at the old footage of her presenting a ropey student TV show with regrettable hair, but being made to see it again in order to reach the next relevant bit obviously nullified its effect.
All of which means this was an awful show, right? Well, happily not, as Wilby exercises an enjoyable stage presence which just about enables 90s Woman to hobble over the finishing line without too much damage done. It’s clearly fun to see her reminiscing with Zoe Lyons and they certainly seem to be having a rollicking old time, while the encounters with the more arch among her fellow alumnae are a little more tense, without being especially revelatory.
At the root of all this nostalgia is a story of unrequited love with each of the participants featured seemingly recalling a massive crush on one particular student. This poignancy keeps things bubbling away but if you came looking for massive insights into politics, feminism or the changing face of student journalism, you might leave feeling marginally let down.