Shoshana Devora in The F Word:
Linda starts with a sales pitch at the Swan Beauty Corporation (visually and linguistically striking in its resemblance to a much more familiar beauty brand). The protagonist after whom the play is named is advocating a new ad campaign, ‘Visibility’. She explains that women in the over-fifties category suffer from a feeling of invisibility. They’re not represented in the media, except by Helen Mirren. Products are marketed to them using models in their thirties. People in the workplace talk over them. Women become concerned when nobody whistles anymore as they walk past construction sites. Linda wants to “help invisible women feel seen again”. Naturally, this feels a little problematic. No women should feel invisible and it’s true that older women are underrepresented in the media and denied a prime place in society. Yet it’s hardly positive that the opposite – being visible – means being sexually harassed and exploited or that visibility is seen exclusively in terms of physical beauty and sexuality.
This duality of women’s visibility or otherwise is one of the central themes of the play. There are women who become invisible, because they’re no longer seen as sexually relevant in society, and are denied opportunities as a result – women such as Linda herself. And then there are the women, like Linda’s daughter Alice, who seek invisibility as a remedy to the constant objectification they face and uninvited attention on their bodies. Alice is Linda’s older daughter; a decade previously she was a victim of what is now known as ‘revenge porn’, when her ex-boyfriend released explicit photos of her after she ended their relationship, causing her academic ambitions to be dashed. She has suffered ever since and now camouflages herself in a skunk onesie in an attempt to repel male attention.