BY JULIE SUTHERLAND
Girls just wanna have fun, right? They want love and freedom and independence, but these are hard to achieve when you’re, as Morro articulates it early on, bleeding from the crotch! Yes, folks, Morro and Jasp Do Puberty is a show about periods and pads and tampons and it’s totally funny, even if you haven’t ever experienced “a visit from Aunt Flo”.
Does this mean it’s a show only for the ladies? In fact, only for the bleeding ones? Absolutely not! This entertaining romp through puberty had the whole audience – women and men, girls and boys, and anyone who might be a little bit of both – in stitches.
And in case you just don’t “do” periods, there are side-splitting (and clever) adventures into breasts, sex, boys, high school dances, make-up and makeovers (watch out! you just might get one), rebellion, rivalry – and even touching explorations of rejection, exploitation and insecurity.
This 60-minute show presents two award-winning Toronto-based clowns – Morro (Heather Marie Annis) and Jasp (Amy Lee) – who shamelessly and courageously confront the trials and tribulations of puberty. They play sisters who disentangle the mysteries of the human body as it pushes its way into adulthood. Jasp (the elder) is full-figured but hasn’t yet had her period. Morro has beat her older sister to that rite of passage – a fact she tries to hide under fathoms of wadded up toilet paper. You can’t hide bloody truths from your older sister though – she’ll always find you out! But, she’ll also help you out. What better friend is there than a sister, right? (I can hear the eyes of younger sisters rolling as they read this.)
In other words, the show isn’t just funny. It’s sweetly touching too. We may hate our siblings, but we love them. We may adore boys, but they let us down. We may hide our bodies, but we marvel at these very miraculous machines – their nerves and sinews and bones … and hormones. We may act brave, but we’re terribly insecure. These are other truths the play explores. And these certainties hit home even for those spectators who are well beyond the pubescent years. In this way, the play is only partly about puberty.
But sentiment aside, the play is ultimately funny – and wickedly clever, too. Using clowns to explore sticky matters like menstruation removes us a little from the subject and we find we’re laughing outright at a subject we usually try to avoid (unless we need to get out of math class or PhysEd, in which case it’s a really useful excuse). The clowns’ physicality (and in particular Amy Lee’s, though Heather Marie Annis gave her a good run for her money) was electric and engaging. Their on-stage connection didn’t push us out; it brought us in. Literally in some cases. Pro tip: Keep your hands clean of the Cheezies that might get passed around the audience.
For those of you well past puberty, you’ll find yourself taken right back into the horrors of sprouting new hair and getting caught kissing your pillow. For those of you just hitting this magical period of your life, you’ll be relieved that you aren’t alone. There will be a bunch of older people in the audience who are nodding and laughing in understanding. They have all been there, done that – and survived. You will too. After all, a little bleeding from the crotch never hurt anyone now, did it?
Morro and Jasp Do Puberty runs at the HAT through January 14.