Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Happy-Go-Wrong review

The sparkle in Andi Snelling’s eyes is evident throughout Happy-Go-Wrong and I’m not referring to the glitter she is wearing. Snelling was born to be on the stage, so it’s disheartening that chronic illness has kept her from doing this for a number of years. However, this is all changing with her new show that has her opening up about how it feels to not be able to do the thing you love and what it has taught her about life.

In Happy-Go-Wrong, a French angel (because why not?) named Lucky has come from Cloud Nine to seek out Snelling and offer her some guidance and perspective. These scenes are interspersed with Snelling's skilful use of spoken word, physical theatre, clowning, and music to express how being diagnosed with a chronic illness has impacted her. Snelling finds a marvellous balance between humour and sadness that allows the audience to comprehend the seriousness of her illness but not to leave them all wallowing in misery.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Bitch On Heat review

Bitch on Heat is the story of Pandora, the first woman on Earth. It begins with an over-the-top electrifying opening as a figure fights to be unleashed to the world, paired with booming dramatic music and lightning visual effects. It sets the tone for Leah Shelton’s high camp performance art exploration of women, sexuality and gender through a series of interconnected vignettes that reinforces the creative genius that she possesses.

Shelton appears in a full body rubber sex doll costume that leaves you feeling disquieted at the images it stirs up. While the big open mouth and blonde wig allude to space adventurer Barbarella, your mind can’t stop from visualising the murderous Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. It’s a fitting reminder to the intention of the work in highlighting women's sexuality but also the violence they endure in its various forms. Shelton fleshes out these ideas through gloriously camp humour, including one moment where that of being a good woman is linked to being a good dog with some perfectly timed and highly expressive panting.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Daddy review

You are immediately drowned in a haze of pink light as you take a step inside the venue. It takes a moment for your eyes to adjust and take in the dreamlike space you have walked into. It is then you spot a figure in skimpy, shiny briefs posed like Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam on a pink cloud of fairy floss and you wonder how you didn't see it earlier. The last in a trilogy of confessional works by dancer/performer Joel Bray, Daddy explores his relationship with his father and subsequently his culture, while also opening up about being a gay man and how he uses sex in an effort to fill an emptiness inside himself.

Bray brings to the surface the relationships, the history and the culture that he has lost due to colonisation. While there’s gravity to what he saying, the fluffy pink set pieces and props (sugar and sweets) are a stark contrast to his words. There’s a link between his childhood and adulthood and culture and identity that is unable to be separated. Not having the opportunity to learn how to speak Wiradjuri as a child from his father, Bray uses an app on an iPhone. This exploration of loss is further highlighted as he struggles to teach himself how to shake-a-leg, a traditional Indigenous dance.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Looking for Tiger Lily review

Looking for Tiger Lily begins with a scene from the 1960 TV version of Peter Pan in which blonde, blue-eyed Indian “princess” Tiger Lily - played by American actress Sondra Lee - performs “Ugg-a-Wugg” with her tribe. As this screens on a projection, Portland’s premier drag clown Carla Rossi, the “ghost of white privilege”, appears on stage and joins in on the dance. This entrance sets the scene for Anthony Hudson’s (and his alter ego Carla's) solo show on the intersectionality and difficulties of coming to terms with his racial, gender and sexual identity. Hudson is a gay American who is three-eighths Native American with his father being a Grande Ronde tribal member and a mother from Germany.

Hudson’s storytelling is engaging and entertaining as he shares stories of his family and childhood and opening up about his constantly shifting ideas of his own identity. While the space is perhaps too big for an intimate show such as this, he uses it well, giving himself plenty of room to express himself. Hudson is articulate and clear in what he is saying, and his physicality and movement demonstrate his enthusiasm and passion, allowing the audience to be further immersed into his world and gain a better understanding of the issues he is raising.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

The Honouring review

In his solo work The Honouring, emerging performer Jack Sheppard (Kurtjar people, Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape York) combines movement, dialogue and puppetry to explore how a person’s spirit or soul can be prevented from moving on when culture does not recognise it. With some impressive design elements, it is a performance that doesn’t shy away from exposing pain or grief while still retaining an air of hope and peace.

Sheppard shines when he uses his body to tell this story and he throws himself into the powerful choreography. Paired with the history of ritual, it is captivating to see how Sheppard chooses to express the emotions and issues that arise from suicide as a First Nations person.