• Beccy Golding

REVIEW: MANIC ★★★★

Updated: Jul 12

Raina Greifer’s astonishing moments of word play, startling metaphor and poetic story telling drip and drop throughout, into the dark shadows and frank self-reflection.




At the start of her one-woman show Raina Greifer gives the stage to five young women and non-binary spoken word artists. An act of generosity which continues throughout the evening. These five young poets share their words about womanhood, bodies, grief and more, with a mix of intensity and lightness that sets the scene for what is to come.


Her vulnerability is heart breaking.

Her show, Greifer tells us, is about bad sex. And she is taking responsibility for her role in it, however fair (or not) the allocation of blame might be.


Greifer sends up her seventeen-year-old self with exaggerated vocal fry and valley girl-speak, and we love young Raina for her sweetness and wide-eyed naivety. Her vulnerability is heart breaking; the “please like me” desperate need for validation, the wide-eyed wondering “am I allowed to ask questions?”


In the front row are representations of three former sexual partners (although, as we learn, partner is not really the right word). They have their own chairs and are symbolized by a cheese string, a balloon head and a cardboard box. Through conversation and story Griefer shares sexual encounters that start seedy and get worse. Facts are blurry, unclear, unremembered, searched for, lost. She asks herself, what was compromise? Realises she feels violated, asks “am I allowed to feel this way?”


Beautiful words trickle and permeate.

This show has ridiculousness and intensity, energy and stillness in equal measure, as Greifer searches for equality in sexuality, guided by quotes from radical American feminist Catharine Alice MacKinnon about context and consent.


We’re told a few times: this was meant to be a show of poems, but it’s not. I might argue the point. Beautiful words trickle and permeate – like water that will always find a way through, Greifer’s astonishing moments of word play, startling metaphor and poetic story telling drip and drop throughout, into the dark shadows and frank self-reflection. And there is one lovely, day-dreamy poem, fantasizing about what true consent might look like.


Resonance shimmers through the audience, moving moments that turn into tears for some of us.

It’s a generous act to share your shame, your ridiculous sweetness, your vulnerability, and Greifer hands it all to us. She articulates feelings that I haven’t put words to before – my experiences aren’t the same, but there is plenty I recognise here – and it feels like resonance shimmers through the audience, moving moments that turn into tears for some of us.


At the end, lights up, Greifer looks us in the eyes and checks we’re OK. And lets us know that she’s alright – we don’t need to worry about her. How thoughtful, amongst the bruises, to still be looking outward. I’m left wondering if that’s something young women are taught – to make sure everyone else is OK, and what the impact of that is. I hope Griefer can offer herself the same generosity - and to forgive herself for things that don’t need forgiving.


★★★★


MANIC, written and performed by Raina Greifer and directed by Pippa Thornton, was performed at The Rondo Theatre on the 23rd June 2022.


MANIC will be at FUSE International on the 2nd July & Stanley Arts Centre on the 14th July. It will run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from the 5th - 28th August.


Follow Raina Greifer on Instagram & Twitter.


Beccy Golding is a Bristol-based poet, fool, writer and arts administrator. She has recently created a brand new spoken word night for older / aging / elder women, called Stone the Crones.

Daily poetry at @FridayIsPoetsDay

@stonethecrones on all the socials

beccygolding.co.uk

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