Hysterical @ Summerhall

Carrie Rudzinski and Olivia Hall's poetic duet is both comforting and confronting, with a heartfelt core

Review by Kitty McQueen | 15 Aug 2023
  • Hysterical

As a hysterical woman, this show had me in hysterical tears.

Carrie Rudzinski and Olivia Hall have a wonderful bond that has allowed them to create an intimate and personal show together, each balancing the other’s performance. Rudzinski and Hall each read poetry – sometimes alone, sometimes in sync, sometimes a mix of both – and these poems delve into the anger behind being termed hysterical for being women. The show is hysterical, and I both laughed and cried multiple times throughout. From a period poem recited in character, to poems surrounding body image and sexism, this show manages to simultaneously comfort you while presenting troubling themes. 

As the stage design represents a cozy living room, and each poet talks directly to the audience throughout, the audience are immersed, encouraging further emotional moments. It feels as though everyone in the small space connects and combines as people hug and comfort one another, followed by laughter ringing through the air. 

Granted, this show isn’t for everyone, but it's a show which knows its target audience and isn’t afraid of that boundary – this is written by hysterical women, for hysterical women, about hysterical women, and has created a space for such. However, anyone and everyone can and will enjoy this show; the men in the room that night seemed just as hysterical as anyone else. 

The poetry isn’t abstractly lyrical but it is heartfelt, and that is where its power lies – these are loud, clear, statements and therefore should be heard as such. If you have ever cried over the death of a plant, ached for your younger self to have loved themselves better, become enraged by the shocking statistics and real life experiences we hear and face everyday surrounding women, or simply wanted to binge some reality TV without being shamed, this is the show for you.

Hysterical, Summerhall (Cairns Lecture Theatre), until 27 Aug, 8.25pm, £13-15