Theatre (physical theatre, circus)

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  • Summerhall - Demonstration Room
  • 21:10
  • Aug 11
  • 1 hour
  • Suitability: 16+ (Restriction)
  • Country: United Kingdom - England
  • Group: Written and Performed by Laura Murphy, Directed by Ursula Martinez
  • Warnings and additional info: Contains Distressing Themes, Nudity, Strong Language/Swearing
  • Accessibility: May not apply to all performances. You'll find more information about accessibile performances and how to book tickets in the accessibility tab below.
  • Babes in arms policy: Babies do not require a ticket
  • Policy applies to: Children under 2 years


Drawing from circus, stand-up and live art, Contra is a solo-cabaret of contradictions. Fierce, witty and uncompromising, this highly physical show interrogates personal, social and historical occupations of the female body and explores, literally, where such bodies are positioned and how we are meant to look at them. Expect scenes of nudity, aerial acrobatics, and explicit references to mythical reptiles and female sexuality. Laura Murphy is a genre-defying queer performance maker from Bristol who makes text-driven and dynamic physical work about things that she thinks need to be talked about.

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General venue access

  • Accessible entry: Once in the courtyard, go behind the Royal Dick Pub, past Barney's Beer and Pickering's Gin; in the back courtyard on your right hand side is the Demonstration Room.
  • Wheelchair access type: Level Access

  • Stairs: Information not supplied

Each venue can contain several space with different accessibly information. Visit the venue page for full venue accessibility info

How and when to make an access booking

Our access tickets service is available to anyone who:

  • Would like to book specific accessibility services, e.g. a hearing loop, audio description headsets, captioning units, seating in relation to the location of the BSL interpreter
  • Requires extra assistance when at a venue
  • Has specific seating requirements
  • Is a wheelchair user
  • Requires a complimentary personal assistant ticket to attend a performance

Lauren 94 days ago

Laura’s performance blew me away. She is utterly captivating and the show was brilliant. GO!

Kate Gaul 96 days ago

Contra - Written and Performed by Laura Murphy, Directed by Ursula Martinez (UK) – Physical theatre, circus, contemporary performance. There’s so much to say about this one but as I am confining myself to the dot points (you can google for actual reviews and production deets) here goes – Eve’s apple, gender binary, misogynist comics, lip synch, Irish dance, cling film, confession, confrontation, and cunt. This is about what we see; what we know; and how we express this. Female oppression vs. female strength … and the corde lisse becomes an expression of defiance, a snake, a phallis … rigorous, poetic, artful. Circus is a leading-edge performance arena and there’s not faking what happens on stage; plus its super great to support feminist performance and I loved that at the end of the show Laura Murphy recommended other artists exploring similar territory. 4 Remnants-of-Cheese

Greg 103 days ago

There’s something Kaufmanesque as Murphy stands naked on stage chomping an apple, exuding presence and playfulness.

But the forbidden fruit isn’t the only thing she takes a bite out of, a woman who’s been told she has muscular shoulders (how that comment changes its meaning based on the gender of the person it’s said to) bites into sexiest attitudes through comedy, monologue, and skilled, poignant, aerial dance.

A clever voiceover segment juxtaposes a lazy, sexist comedy soundtrack with a powerful show by Murphy that is anything but, producing a piece of art that will leave you wanting to watch it again.

Must see.

Participants - for further details on our audience and published review policies, including how to add or opt out of reviews, please click here.

The List (4/5 stars) 92 days ago

Laura Murphy scales new heights of female positivityBiting mischievously into an apple, Laura Murphy, naked and robust, eyes the audience as Eve. As a swaggering misogynistic male comedian, she lip synchs to an uncomfortable routine. As herself, she spits out sharp testimonials which speak to gendered violence.These are but some...

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Total Theatre 94 days ago

A naked woman walks into a room. (That could be the opening line for a dodgy male comedian’s routine, right?). There’s not much in the room, but there is a free-hanging rope – the French term corde lisse says it so much more elegantly. The rope becomes a serpent. Puppetry,...

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The Scotsman (3/5 stars) 95 days ago

Laura Murphy's subject in Contra is the familiar Fringe theme of patriarchy, and the constant supervision of the female body and female behaviour in a male-dominated society. ...

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The Circus Diaries 95 days ago

Laura Murphy is the first British artist to be awarded a prestigious and competitive CircusNext Laureateship since Iona Kewney in 2012. Iona Kewney was the first since Ockham’s Razor in 2002. The programme seeks out contemporary circus creators of ‘singularity, creativity, and artistic excellence’. The British circus scene has not generally been known for this kind of boundary-pushing, thought-provoking work.

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The Wee Review (4/5 stars) 96 days ago

Laura Murphy abruptly enters the stage completely naked and boldly stands in front of a microphone. Here she begins to eat an apple and then delivers a heartfelt monologue about her body. From the get-go she is vulnerable and exposed and looks to challenge the audience with her physicality and...

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Fest (4/5 stars) 100 days ago

Laura Murphy walks out on to the floor of Summerhall's Demonstration Room naked as the day she was born. An apple is in hand and a corde lisse dangles from the ceiling. This apparatus will be dominated throughout by Murphy's powerful acrobatics, but its first role in Contra is to...

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Participants - for further details on our audience and published review policies, including how to add or opt out of reviews, please click here.

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Participants - for further details on our audience and published review policies, including how to add or opt out of reviews, please click here.