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Fringe Favourites: Cruel Intentions the 90s Musical

Fringe Favourites: Cruel Intentions the 90s Musical


Cruel Intentions
© The Other Richard

Love or hate it, nostalgia is big right now. Film producers, theatre companies, games companies, and record labels are cashing in on our desire to relive decades gone by. And why not? It's a widely known part of the human experience that we hold the biggest place in our hearts for the pop culture of our childhood and teenage years. I can't name a single Billie Ellish song (but I know who she is, I'm not that out of touch) but ask me to recite every song from Green Day's American Idiot album and I'm your girl. 

So obviously the Edinburgh Fringe is chock full of acts attempting to tap into everyone's inner teenager. But the performance that is shouting the loudest (if posters could shout) is the musical adaption of Cruel Intentions

Cruel Intentions is a bit of a random film to adapt. I was just short of being a teenager in 1999, and while the film did perform well, it didn't have the same pop culture influence that Clueless or Mean Girls did. And as much as Sarah Michelle Geller was in her prime in the late 90s, these days we never really see her (see this YouTube video for a quick analysis as to why). Despite being a film I've always enjoyed, it doesn't stand out as one of the big ones. 

But the producers did something very smart and tapped into the audience's nostalgia for all things the 90s. In addition to bringing the story and dialogue to the stage, they sprinkled some of the most recognisable pop songs from the 90s into the script. We're talking Britney Spears, N*SYNC, TLC, Goo Goo Dolls, Natalie Imbruglia and the Dawson's Creek soundtrack. And they made reference to AOL Chat and other 90s peculiarities. 

Before I went into the theatre, I knew that this formula had the potential to really work...or fall flat on its face. 

Thankfully, it really worked. 

The singing from every cast member was on-point, Rebecca Gilhooley perfectly impersonated Sarah Michelle Geller's accent, Sophie Isaacs physically resembles Reese Whitherspoon, and a special shout out to Evelyn Hoskins for nailing the cringier scenes in her over-the-top take on the naive Cecile.

The musical adaptation also stays very true to the original film but does soldier through it at a very quick pace (there's no interval). And as you would expect from any musical adaption, it is much campier than the original film (which wasn't very campy at all).

They performed the musical adaption in a pop-up marquee in George Square Gardens, which did mean they were limited in their performance space. Throughout the performance, they kept the same set that consisted of two chaise lounge-style benches (which wouldn't have looked out of place in the original film). If this musical gains traction (which I think it will) I would love to see what they could do with a proper stage set up and team. 

Was it a high-brow Shakespearean play? Absolutely not. Was it fun? Hell yes. If fun pop songs make you break out in a rant about manufactured bands who don't write their own songs, then Cruel Intentions The 90s Musical is not for you. And if you didn't live through the 90s (did you know that people born in 2000 can now legally drink alcohol? Mental) then some of the references might be lost on you. 

But if you like the original film and still boogie in your room to the Backstreet Boys, then Cruel Intentions The 90s Musical comes highly recommended. 
 
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morag | mo adore
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What relationship anarchy means for me and how it shows up in my life

What relationship anarchy means for me and how it shows up in my life






Back in April, I wrote a personal blog post exploring my (and society's!) feelings towards romantic attraction.

Within this post, I provided a brief overview of a few labels people use to wrap up their romantic attraction into one succinct word. For me personally, the two labels that I identify with are relationship anarchist and grey-romantic.

(Don't like labels? Tough! They help people - like myself - who don't fit the heteronormative babies and a house in the suburbs narrative understand our needs and feel less like freaks).

Today I want to focus on Relationship Anarchy and how it shows up in my life in a practical sense. I also have a similar blog post penned for grey-romanticism, but that's another few weeks away. An important thing to remember about Relationship Anarchy is that, in its essence, it allows people to have platonic, romantic, sexual, and familial relationships in a way that feels right for them and removes the hierarchy that some relationships should automatically be more important than others.

From the Relationship Anarchy Manifesto:

Relationship anarchy questions the idea that love is a limited resource that can only be real if restricted to a couple. You have the capacity to love more than one person, and one relationship and the love felt for that person does not diminish love felt for another. Don’t rank and compare people and relationships — cherish the individual and your connection to them. One person in your life does not need to be named primary for the relationship to be real. Each relationship is independent, and a relationship between autonomous individuals.
Please bear in mind that I'm about to talk about how Relationship Anarchy shows up for me personally, it is not how it will show up for everyone - because the whole point of Relationship Anarchy is doing what feels right for you (but with consent and communication!).

I don't consider a romantic relationship to be something that I must have

If I was to conjure up my ideal life, yes, I would have one (or multiple) steady romantic/sexual partner(s). But it's not something that keeps me awake at night. I've been legally single (notice the terminology; I'll expand on that in a bit) for almost a decade, and I'm completely okay with that (despite the aghast faces that some people will make when they find out).

It hurts my feelings that my family show no interest in my platonic relationships

Hi family, if you're reading! I doubt my parents (and especially my wider family) could tell my adult friends apart from each other. But if a serious romantic partner entered the picture, my parents would be on the first train to Glasgow and they'd be invited for Christmas. My platonic relationships mean a lot to me, and it does bother me that my family see these relationships as not worth paying attention to.

And I hate going to weddings alone

When did we decide the societal norm that plus ones to weddings have to be a serious romantic partner? Even a co-worker who will literally not know one other person at your wedding will be expected to turn up themselves?

I was having this chat with my partnered friend recently who said it annoyed her as well. Her reasoning: what if my partner is busy? Is she not allowed to take another person?

I'm not opposed to marriage, and if I do have a wedding the ceremony itself will be close friends and family but the reception can be anyone I'm friendly with - and everyone gets a plus one, regardless of relationship status.

I've had more casual relationships than serious relationships

The idea of casual relationships still gets some people's backs up. My response? If you don't like them, then don't have one.

For me, a casual relationship involves all the romance and sex that a serious relationship might have - but, yes, without the commitment. Having a relationship without commitment does not make someone a horrible person. It's just the right choice for them.

I think there's a difference between a romantic relationship and a romantic partner

To me, any relationship that is romantic counts as a romantic relationship - no matter how serious, or non-commital, it is. If it's romantic, it's romantic. Even if you choose never to label it or tick the milestones that all romantic couples are expected to.

But not every romantic relationship will be a romantic partnership. To me, a romantic partnership is when you partner with someone and commit your life to them: living together, joint bank accounts, children, marriage etc.

And it sometimes catches people really off-guard (on a date) when I ask if they are looking for a serious partnership or just a romantic relationship. Think of it in terms of polyamory: primary partner versus secondary partner. Your love for the secondary partner might be true, but you've chosen to commit yourself to the first partner. 

Some people still automatically baulk at this and accuse me of wasting my time. Look, it's my time. And it's my decisions. Non-serious romantic relationships are a common thing in Relationship Anarchy and Polyamorous circles.

I'm not opposed to a romantic partner, but they'd have to be incredible

As I mentioned earlier, my ideal life would involve a steady romantic/sexual partner. However, I don't crave one badly enough that I would reduce my standards. I see some people happily agree to be someone's partner after a few dates (how? you've met them three times?). If I'm going to partner with someone and factor them into every big life choice I make, then they're going to have to be incredible (and want similar things from life).

I am open to polyamory

Relationship Anarchy and polyamory have a lot of overlap. I mean, if you reject the societal expectation of a romantic partner being your everything then surely you're open to having more than one partner?

Not necessarily.

For me, non-monogamy is one of those bridges I'll cross, if and, when I meet someone I want to enter a formal relationship with (I do, however, have a strict rule than a casual romantic partner can never expect monogamy of me). My ideal scenario is one formal romantic/sexual partner with a few sidepieces (for a lack of better term). However, it's not a dealbreaker and I am open to negotiating the boundaries (even agreeing to make the relationship monogamous).

For those of you familiar with non-monogamy, you'll be aware that having a primary partner is sometimes seen as mock-monogamy and doesn't work in practice. I completely agree with this and get why polyamorous relationships should be free-flowing, and demanding that your partner doesn't fall in love with a secondary partner is just unrealistic. But because I so rarely meet people I want to partner with, I know the chances of me having more than one committed partner is an unlikely scenario. But if two emerge, then I'll cross that bridge.

Couples who do everything together confuse me

Almost every time I'm out shopping I see a grumpy male partner moaning because their female partner dragged them to the shops against their will. Can the girl not go shopping herself? Ask her friend who enjoys shopping to accompany her instead? Can the man not say no?

Yes, couples need to spend time together and sometimes you need to suck things up. But those sucking things up should be important things - like shopping together for a new kitchen or attending a family wedding. Quality couple time should be a meaningful activity for both of you.

This is why I love to have multiple relationships in my life - whether familial, platonic, or romantic. It means that I'm never dragging people to things against their will, and I'm never being dragged to things against my will. If you have hobbies that no one in your circle shares, then feel free to go out and find people who do share those hobbies with you. You're not balled and chained.

When I am in a relationship, I maintain a life outside it

Granted, I haven't been in a Facebook-official relationship for eight years but when I have done the Big Official Meet The Parents Relationship, I didn't glue myself to the person.

How other people structure their relationships is not my business, and if someone wants their romantic partner to be their sole source of social and emotional support then that's their choice. But I've always found it draining when someone I'm dating expects 24/7 attention or gets weird about me maintaining strong friendships (fun fact: I am platonically and romantically attracted to people who have a lot going on in their lives - and everyone I've ever had a big crush on or fallen in love with had some kind of big hobby they loved with a passion).

I specifically crave a romantic/sexual relationship for romantic/sexual needs

While I might be grey-romantic, I'm not 100% aromatic and I'm definitely allosexual. So I still crave romance and sex, albeit maybe not the first one as much as other. That's why my ideal life would still involve a romantic/sexual partner. And I know that sex with someone you love and feel comfortable with is an incredible experience (and better than an awkward one night stand)

However, about a year ago I had a proper think about why I crave a romantic/sexual relationship, especially in relation to the needs that that kind of relationship would meet. And I had a bit of a revelation. There are a lot of us (and I include myself in this) who have needs that we want to be met by a romantic relationship, that could actually be a met by a familial or platonic relationship.

I work in the travel industry and solo travellers are on the increase - with the highest demographic being divorced, empty-nesters. You might have not have a partner or young children, but do you not have a close friend you could go away with? I've also heard single people who are worried that it might take a few days for someone to notice if they went missing. I'm pretty certain my employer and flatmate would notice immediately - but I also have friends that I speak to almost every day who would get worried very quickly. The same goes for emotional support during difficult times.

If you're feeling down about being single, I recommend thinking about why you feel this way. Is it really a romantic relationship you want, or do you have needs that aren't being met (but could be met!) by the platonic relationships in your life? What are you really craving?

I don't believe that blood is thicker than water

Just the same as I don't hold romantic relationships as automatically more important than platonic relationships, familial relationships also have to be meaningful for me to put emotional energy into them. I'm not into the societal conditioning that family members - regardless of how toxic they are - should get a free pass on behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or upset. If you wouldn't accept certain behaviours from a friend, don't accept them from a family member.

I actually come from a very small family: I'm an only child with a grand total of five cousins. I also don't want children and I'm not too fussed about a life partner, so in a few decades time there's a very high likelihood that I won't really have a family. This makes some people reach out to pat me on the shoulder, but this is something I have long made my peace with - and is probably why I put a lot of effort into making meaningful connections outside the family.

I'm honest as fuck straight away when I'm dating

Generic dating advice will tell you not to talk about marriage and children on a first date. This is dating advice I tend to ignore. I actually have written on my Tinder that I don't want children. As far as I'm concerned telling someone what you want before anyone falls in love is how respectful people behave, and recognises that we are living in 2019 (not 1960 where women can't get a mortgage without a husband's signature).

Relationship Anarchy respects people's right to do what is right for then. Whether that is a traditional house in the suburbs with two kids and a dog, or having multiple casual relationships. I don't care what other people do, and I certainly don't have anything against people who stick to tradition. But it does mean being very honest with people - and recognising that there are multiple ways to practice romantic and sexual relationships so you need to lay your needs down early.

It's 2019 and various relationship styles are coming out the woodwork. It's time to acknowledge them because they're only going to grow more popular. So be honest.

If you identify as a Relationship Anarchist, how does it show up in your life? 
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July Linkables

July Linkables



I would ask if everyone has been enjoying the hot weather we've been having in Scotland. But because I'm me (me being a killjoy) I'm going to draw your attention to global warming. Like this is not good people. And now we're expecting a storm. A storm and a heatwave within a week of each other? The planet is dying.

Anyway, links.

Sex & Relationships

Something I've wondered a few times: when in a new relationship do you bring up past traumas?

Co-signed: moving on doesn't always mean finding a new relationship

Social Justice, Equality, & Politics 

If Brexit wasn't humiliating enough, here's Boris Johnson's take on it.

In case you weren't aware: I'm a member of the Scottish Greens and their new fox-hunting bill is one of the many reasons why.

Stonewall shares the Truth About Trans.

How to actually engage in ethical tourism (hint: it doesn't involve elephant sanctuaries).

Black women are angry - and they have every right to be!

Homophobia isn't dead: we are young, gay - and looking over our shoulders.

If your precious union of the UK means anything real then start giving a shit about Northern Ireland and the politically-sensitive border. This article is amazing, even if it makes me angry.

A reminder that recycling doesn't do that much environmental good.

Selling mindfulness as a product is dirty capitalism.

Articles I wish I had written: Moby's treatment of Natalie Portman is a masterclass in nice-guy misogyny.

A reminder that biological sex is not binary and you shouldn't use it to justify transphobia.

The Guardian published an article asking male feminist allies to start cleaning around the house. And while I think there is a lot more to supporting women, I'd say that sharing domestic duties is a fucking good start!

Surprise, surprise: Dunes at Trump's golf course due to lose protected status (I grew up near here).

Not sure why there are protests in Hawaii? Here's a foundational explanation.

Woke-ness is such a big thing now that even brands are getting in on it. Oliver Franklin-Wallis looks at why.

Geek & Pop Culture

Part of me loves this, but part of me hates that it has to be said too: Why Bend it Like Beckham is still a huge Deal 15 Years Later.

Food & Veganism

Stop the press: Tesco is launching a vegan Christmas range!

Must read: diet culture is toxic - even for those of us who don't diet!

Why every metal and hardcore fan should consider going vegan.

4 ingredients vegan Parmesan cheese.

And...

Things that shouldn't need to be explained.

What have you been reading online this month? 
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I attended the Netball World Cup, and instead of writing about the matches or players I'm defending it (again) from critics who claim it's too girly and a tool of the patriarchy

I attended the Netball World Cup, and instead of writing about the matches or players I'm defending it (again) from critics who claim it's too girly and a tool of the patriarchy



If you're a girl who grew up in the UK there's a large chance that you played netball at school.

Some of us, however, didn't stop playing after school.

While I wouldn't consider netball to be a big passion of mine, I have maintained a passing interest. I played it in university, joined a casual league (briefly) in Glasgow, attended the netball matches in Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games, and even travelled to Liverpool for the Netball World Cup earlier this month.

When people found out that I was attending the Netball World Cup they usually responded with surprise. Netball hasn't really lost its schoolgirl image and many members of the public are surprised to realise that there are fully-grown adults who take it that seriously.

Granted, the public profile of Netball is on the rise. As the conversation around women's sport becomes louder, the Netball World Cup in Liverpool had mainstream coverage on BBC News (aided by having it on English turf). The same can be said about the recent Women's Football World Cup. I don't follow football but I was still very aware of the competition for the first time in my life.

So it will come as little surprise that the organisers of the Netball World Cup were using this as an opportunity to promote female participation in sport.

On the surface of it, Netball appears to be a feminist dream. A sport where women dominate? That managed to obtain mainstream coverage? That girls play in school and create friendships through?

However, feminist circles can't agree on whether Netball is feminist or not. A quick Google and you will find feminist academics and journalists arguing that netball actually holds girls back and that it's too dainty.

I'm not going to explicitly share my opinion until the conclusion. Though it's probably obvious that as a fan of netball I'm on the pro-netball side, however, I am instead going to spend the next few minutes 1) discussing where the idea that netball is harmful to women has come from and 2) rip those reasons to shreds.

The main problem that feminist writers and scholars have with netball is its patriarchal roots. And this is the only reason that, yeah, you have a point. Netball was founded in Victorian England as a watered-down version of basketball that would allow women to engage in physical activity without getting into too much of a sweat. It was very ladylike and was even played in long pleated skirts.

So, yes. Sexist bullshit indeed.

But here's why I defend it.

The netball that was founded in Victorian England is not the same netball you now see at elite levels. Victorian netball was never designed to be an elite sport that people played professionally. The first Netball World Cup was held in 1960, making it younger than both my parents! And I can assure you that the netball played at the highest levels (by athletes with muscular bodies) can not be played in pleated skirts. You'd trip up!

Over the years, women have taken this dainty sport (and it was dainty back in the day) and upped the pace and physical prowess required for the game. And that's fucking powerful. There's a lot of debate around reclaiming things that were once used to hurt oppressed groups, and I stand firmly in the camp that oppressed groups should reclaim things. I use the word slut and queer so that they can't be used against me, and will one day reemerge as bog-standard words that are never used as slurs. The same can be said for women running beauty YouTube channels where they make crazy-money out of this feminine hobby that many deem as fluffy or a waste of their time.

And netball, to me, is another example of an oppressed group reclaiming something. You're going to not allow us a place on the elite-level sports because we're dainty women who can't handle it? Fine. We'll take your Netball and we'll turn it into an elite level sport that requires athleticism of the highest level. Oh, and we'll have a World Cup. Watch us.

The other argument that seems to crop up a lot is that netball is a restrictive game and represents how restricted women are in society. Deep. For those of you who aren't aware of the rules of netball: there are seven players who have positions and those positions have specific roles and each position can only be in certain parts of the court.

Bear with me a second, as I'm going to come back to that after this next argument and that I'll look at them together.

The other argument that gets flung around a lot is that netball is a non-contact sport. You can't tackle someone in netball like you can in football or rugby. This apparently is representative of women not being allowed to show any sign of aggression, whether that's while playing a sport or just generally living their life. Women should be well-mannered and agreeable at all times. Also deep, I know.

When I read these arguments I feel as though the writers live in a parallel universe where women only play netball and men only play rugby (and where only two genders exist). Because of this, I've decided to compile a list of other sports that are played at an elite level, are tackle-free and/or have a lot of rules. You're welcome.
  • golf
  • bowls
  • cricket
  • swimming
  • tennis
  • volleyball
  • badminton
  • snooker
  • darts
  • archery
  • curling
  • sailing
If you're complaining about netball not being aggressive enough, I hope that you're reminding any male relatives who play golf of the same thing every time they tee off.  If you don't like netball because it's non-contact but you will happily cheer on your grandpa at the bowling green then you need to ask yourself: is it really netball that I have a problem with or is it just women, especially feminine women? Because there are plenty of male-orientated sports (which would be most sports, tbh) that are much slower-paced than netball (which isn't even slow-paced, especially at the elite level).

And too schoolgirly? Have you seen schoolboys play football? It's wildly different from the standard you see at the World Cup. 

Instead of looking for reasons for why the world should dislike the same things you dislike how about you just let people like things. I don't like golf. After three summers of working in a golf club, where men who were old enough to my dad (and some of these men probably drank pints in the pub with my actual dad) made comments about my appearance and told me I'd make a good wife because I made them a cup of tea (that did, unfortunately, happen) I really can't stomach the game. But I still have better things to do with my life than foam at the mouth when the Ryder Cup is on. 

Almost everything is problematic when viewed through a social justice lens. This is why I support media literacy where people can simultaneously enjoy things but recognise problematic elements. I'm not into cancelling people unless they are Chris Brown levels of offensive.  

But but but..... girls are forced into playing netball at school while the boys get to play rugby. I can't speak for everyone's school experience but I can speak for my own. When I was in Primary 6 the girls were all sent letters asking if they wanted to stay after school on a Wednesday for netball classes. Very few girls didn't take it, but it wasn't compulsory. Netball was also part of sports day where the different school houses played matches against each other. And the girls could be part of the Sports Day football teams too (though I only remember one girl signing up). But never was it enforced. 

In high school, netball was still present. The actual netball team try-outs were for girls only. But in P.E. Netball was mixed-sex with the boys taking part. It was incredible because the girls were running circles around them as the boys entered sections of the courts their position weren't allowed into. There was no male arrogance in those PE lessons! 

As a side note though, sport isn't a big part of the state education system in Scotland. Most people who grow up sporty in Scotland come from sporty families or have parents who will pay for classes outwith school hours. Sports inequality is a very real thing in Scotland but it's more than a gender issue.

Finally, a note on feminity: 

THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING A FEMININE-PRESENTING PERSON OR ENJOYING STREOTYPICALLY FEMININE THINGS. If you ever - and I mean ever - shit on something for being feminine I will come after you. To me shitting on something for no other reason than being a stereotypically female hobby, career, or sport is inherently anti-feminist. It's patriarchy convincing you that feminine people and their feminine hobbies deserve less respect. Let people present the gender they feel okay with. Because, as far as I am concerned, people who wear lipstick (and like netball) can sure as hell turn up to the revolution. Feminity is only wrong when it is enforced feminity. Women should be free to be as feminine or as non-feminine as they want. 

But, on the flip side, I find the idea that netball is a feminine sport laughable. I can understand why people say cheerleading and ice-skating are feminine as it is performative and usually involves make-up and thought-out outfit choices. But netball, feminine? It's not a theatre-esque sport. Players don't wear make-up. They sweat buckets. They don't always look particularly pretty while playing.

The only reason Netball is seen as feminine is because only women tend to play it. 

But, male and mixed teams are on the increase. Though it's laughable that men are complaining about gender inequality in Netball when they dominate pretty much every other sport, ever. 

My final opinion? Is netball feminist? No. Is it anti-feminist? Also no. 

Anyone who thinks netball is still the dainty back garden game from the Victorian era or the same game they played at school needs to attend the next Netball World Cup (which will be in Cape Town, swish!). 
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morag | mo adore
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