What If Women Ruled the World? review – Kubrick meets covfefe as catastrophe strikes

By Hettie Judah

Mayfield, Manchester
Yael Bartana’s ill-judged performance piece at Manchester international festival mixed real, trailblazing women’s debate with actors’ scripted scenes

We occupy a moment when incredible hostility – and actual violence – arises from our inability to discriminate truth from untruth, instinct from indoctrination, information from propaganda. In searching for a route out of the current global mess, then, it is a high-risk strategy to take urgent, informed, factual testament, and mix it in the most intrusive manner possible with dramatic fiction.

The Israeli-born artist Yael Bartana‘s What if Women Ruled the World? – a headline commission at Manchester international festival – does just that. At each performance, five outstanding thinkers, legislators, advocates and scientists – all of whom happen to be female – are introduced into an established dramatic structure loosely derived from the closing minutes of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove.

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