As I entered the showing for MANIC, walking past a cheese string, a ginger balloon and multi-faced cube in the front row, I knew I was in for a wild ride. Leaving the performance, I was questioning my behaviour as a man in every interaction I had and will have, single or in a relationship. An overreaction maybe, but no warning could truly prepare me for Raina Greifer’s performance.
MANIC starts as a stand-up act, accompanied with a hilarious slide-show where Greifer has photoshopped her face into various objects and splashed topless men alongside. However, we feel the atmosphere change as her tone waivers, and we’re submerged into the fast-food restaurant bathroom she loses her virginity in. Now a one person therapy session, Greifer details all of the awful sex she’s had during her teenage years in search for her own validation, not just a man’s.
Covering grounds of grooming, ghosting and grey areas around drunken consent via handmade constructions of her ex-partners, this show earns the trigger warnings provided at the start.
With such trauma exposed in full transparency, Greifer’s main strength of powerful imagery is also what leads to making the audience so uncomfortable. I was engrossed with her stories and empathised as she re-engaged with such heart-breaking moments in her past. I relate to her feelings of desperation, wanting and yearning but can never fully understand her trauma due to male privilege. A powerful yet harrowing experience, MANIC is an important addition to the conversation of sexual inequality.