Libby Liburd’s solo performance in Muvvahood is both captivating and revealing, the sixty-minute show is packed with hard truths, which many readers of a certain newspaper would find difficult to swallow. Muvvahood is a damning indictment of the state, media, and society as a whole. Directed by Julie Addy, it is at The Park Theatre, before touring London venues.
Using a variety of storytelling techniques, Libby Liburd exposes the stigmatism of single parenthood. An opening slide informs us 91% of single parents are female and 63% live in poverty, so this is where the focus of the show lies, and after all, Liburd has had first-hand experience.
The first half resembles a TED talk, as Liburd spits out facts and figures in a highly entertaining way. Projections pick out sensationalist headlines, and malicious social media comments, all while Jamie Oliver fails to understand that you can’t cook a healthy meal if you can’t afford to pay the gas bill. The Little Britain character, Vicky Pollard is used to show how the media portrays single mothers as benefit cheats, “impregnating themselves to get a council flat”. It’s all very funny in the way it’s presented, but shocking when you examine the truth behind it.
In the second part, Liburd recounts verbatim experiences of other single mothers, their stories each proceeded by a change of shoes and a photograph of the children in question. It’s particularly upsetting to hear of the kind of conditions people are forced to live in. There is huge focus on poverty and the damaging effects of the benefits cap, and other such Government policies, but we also hear from the full time working Mum, and the mother who had to leave lectures early, but still managed to graduate from University.
Libby Liburd speaks passionately and from the heart, the stories she tells are real, and are presented with brutal openness. A lone parent and a lone performer, speaking out against terrible injustice, Liburd creates a scenario which leaves you thoroughly entertained, but also more aware, and in turn, infuriated.
Muvvahood is a performance which punches you in the gut and leaves you reeling, it should be mandatory viewing for every MP before they even set foot in Parliament, and a few news editors would benefit from seeing it too. For the rest of us, it allows us a brief glimpse beyond the stereotype, and past the prejudice, to the women who only want to care for their children.