What does perfect mean?
This is the question Danyah Miller poses to the audience straight away - but obviously this was far too philosophical a question to answer in the moment, and so instead she asked us a series of questions which we could answer en mass. Are you perfect? Do you want to be perfect? Do you ever feel too fat or too thin? Do you ever feel not good enough?
The answers were interesting, with most of us neither thinking we are perfect nor wanting to be, but all of us having felt one pressure or another.
And so Miller then asked what perfection looks like and we made a collective list about what would make ourselves, friends and family, career and society all more perfect.
It was an interesting thought exercise and I imagine the answers would change with every show. Miller even said this, making jokes from things that had been suggested before. And of course the one aspect we forgot: the perfect social media picture! This was a fun way of tapping into exactly the issue with images of perfection, while also getting that instagrammable shot for promo.
Then after an interesting set up, the show really kicked off with Miller going into full storytelling mode to tell us all a fairytale. She was an epic storyteller, and used a sparse array of props from Russian nesting dolls to a custom made chair-cum-ladder that adapted to her show. However, the story was mostly told through her excellent use of language and physical gestures which marked certain ideas, such as repeated sweeping motions to reinforce ideas of tidiness. The tale was also perfectly feminist, taking place in a 'Queendom' and was truly a story about issues women predominantly face.
The tale was a metaphor for real relationships between a mother and daughter - here we assume that they are Miller's own relationships. And she traces back through these relationships to try to find relationship between 'perfection' and motherhood, until she points out, 'we can't keep going backwards'. But looking forwards poses more complications; in an attempt to break the cycle of mothers impacting their daughters lives, is aspiring to be the 'perfect mother the solution. Inevitably the answer is exactly what you expect, leaving us to question whether 'perfection', attainable or not, is something we even want to aspire to.
The show wasn't perfect - there were mistakes and it wasn't as smooth as it could have been, but Miller incorporated this into the show well. Equally, while the music didn't work, I didn't miss it at all - Miller's ability to tell a story was captivating enough. The show was thought provoking, and while the ideas may not be new, they are rarely confronted so head on as they were here. Of course there was a moral to the story, which was that Miller has learned to look at perfection in a new light, and ultimately she tells us, imperfection is not failure, but freedom.