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WOW! Tits/Teeth - this National Youth Theatre production is an energy packed extravaganza piling 1980s Hot Gossip style dance routines into an interpretation of a neurosis described in the new century as body dysmorphia, writes Melody Foreman. Think you

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BODY BEAUTIFUL? Jordan (aka Katie Price)

WOW! Tits/Teeth - this National Youth Theatre production is an energy packed extravaganza piling 1980s' Hot Gossip style dance routines into an interpretation of a neurosis described in the new century as body dysmorphia, writes Melody Foreman.

Think you don't like the way you look? Then imagine when that gets out of control and it destroys your life. As in, can't stop looking in the mirror, imagining all sorts of negative images that really aren't there. A small nose becomes a huge nose. A tiny pimple is a huge growth? Teeth are too big so they need sandpapering down as a lone operation in a bedroom. It's a modern issue and a psychological fall out of today's obsession with fame, youth and cyber induced body image.

Staged at the Soho Theatre in the West End this show's got perzaz. Multi-media effects and a great cast of talented young performers directed by Anna Niland make a flaky script charting the history of psychotic obsessions with body image come hugely alive.

The first act opens with Cristina Avery's sharp choreography featuring 28 leotarded and legginged young lovelies bouncing about to a beatbox illuminating the whys and wherefores of social pressures on the body beautiful.

They were all so elasticated in their drive for mythical enhancement of thighs, bums and tums, the only thing they'd be looking for was an affair with a trampoline. Boing!

Welsh actress Gwyneth Keyworth plays Ffion who despite good A levels decides to hook up with a porn loving boyfriend Steven (Joe Cole) who persuades her the way to go is to be, albeit a low budget, big boobed Jordan. So it's the way to go for would-be glamour model Ffion who has posted her picture, on all fours in swim suit, on the net. Images shot by her goofy and gormless friend Cheryl comically played by a wide eyed Lizzi Connolly.

But while the audience soon get the picture of naive girl being suckered into the unsavoury world of glamour modelling and riches Michael Wynne's script failed to move us into anything else beyond a Daily Mailish 'oh how awful' reaction. The breast enlargement scene is graphic with wily Dr Gary played by Mark Stokoe proving a necessary but unfortunate reminder of an unholy fashion for plastic surgery.

The stereotyping of womanhood, enlarged breasts and all the rest was represented on the stage by a computer geek character manipulating images of a semi-clad teenager into a mythical nymph and therefore exhibiting all the dangers associated with a phallocentric world.

I did appreciate this show. It revealed a lot. It tackled lots of issues. Body dysmorphia is a weird but very real issue and especially alive in today's commercially driven world propped up by Hollywood's continued and traditional obsession with youth.

But it's not a new phenomena. Freud had a problem with his Wolf Man. A patient who believed his nose was humungously large and aggressive when in actual act it was not. But then Freud wrote an opus about how we eventually deal with the image we first saw of ourselves in the mirror as babies and how it affects us for the rest of our lives.

In the second act we see the 'Teeth' cast led by Sophie Ward (not the actress daughter of Young Winston actor, Simon). She worked hard to keep the act together even filing down her teeth because she was once called 'horse face' at school. But after 15 minutes of this act we got the picture of her suffering sure enough. This young woman had real problems about her image - an outlook so completely distorted no surgeon would treat her alleged appalling skin and they only and wisely recommend psychological help. Dr Ward in this scene was played astutely by the Kentish Times' own Teen About Town Lois Edmett who had the kind of authority that threatened to burst out of its earnestness into comedy.

By the end of this production we saw an attempted suicide, regret, remorse, general bloody confusion and a host of self esteem issues all up for debate. Welcome to a frightening element of British society in 2009.

l For more information about Tits/Teeth see www.IdeasTap.com

Melody Foreman

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