One in three women have survived sexual violence at the hands of friends, partners, family and even complete strangers.

Foreign Body brings these voices together and amplifies them far beyond the echo-y confines of the Vaults. Imogen Butler-Cole has crafted a beautiful and brave piece based on her own assault, the perspectives of the perpetrator and eight more survivors.

The staging is strikingly simple. As you walk in, Butler-Cole is seated on a chair surrounded by mirrors, still as if in shock. As she begins to move forward, the chair drags her back to the spot. Most of her choreography involves carrying this lumbersome object.

This metaphor is perhaps far more effective than the graphic portrayals of assault so often seen on our stages (and screens). Butler-Cole has a subtlety in the way she moves that speaks volumes without saying anything at all. Paired with the frank testimonies, it is one of the most truthful explorations of the subject I have seen.

Foreign Body has a harrowing double meaning - being invaded by something - or someone - without consent, and feeling alienated from your own body following the attack. But by contrast, Butler-Cole possesses complete control of her body here, from the fragile fluttering of her fingers to great angry leaps across the stage.

At its core, this is a journey of healing and Butler-Cole's strength, as she hears the voice of her attacker ring out across the venue, is a beacon of hope. With restrained direction from Fran Moulds and a stunning soundtrack from Tara Franks and Filipe Sousa, this show will only continue to grow and charge people with the courage to speak out. 

Foreign Body played at VAULT Festival from 7 - 11 March.


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