Dressed review at Underbelly Cowgate, Edinburgh – ‘as beautiful and visceral as raw silk’
Lydia doesn’t make costumes anymore. Now she makes clothes. ThisEgg’s four-women show is based on the sexual assault at gunpoint of clothing designer Lydia Higginson and the years following that.
It would, however, be wrong to describe the work as charting some sort of a ‘journey’. Instead, the repeated performances instinctively radiate with catharsis and attempts at healing. In other words, Dressed doesn’t record an event passed, it is part of an event still occurring.
Performed by four childhood friends (Josie Dale-Jones, Nobahar Mahdavi, Olivia Norris and Higginson), the work oscillates between fragments of joy-filled teenage friendship, intensely raw reflections on the assault and something close to anarchy or disintegration.
It’s not quite perfect. A basic revelation about why the costumes Higginson originally created are not the salvation they seem is overly drawn-out and some minor sections lose their way. But its messiness also adds to its bitter sadness, as this is simultaneously the story of four young women simply existing and the violence that perforates that.
Like Laura Wade’s Home, I’m Darling, Dressed understands the emotional heft of clothing – how a dress is not just a dress, but a mechanism to expose, claim, cover and express our selves.