You better work bitch, and work is what circus artist Anna Lumb does in the preview performance of her Melbourne Fringe Festival show, Hard To Reach Places. With Britney Spears' "Work Bitch" pumping through the speakers, Lumb jumps on a bicycle and furiously starts pedaling with a determined yet exhausted look on her face. In her solo show, Lumb looks at the gray areas of life she is in and tries to find a balance within them: she's not young but she's not old, she's not mainstream but she's not underground, she's between jobs but she has two full-time jobs.
Incorporating circus and physical theatre, Hard To Reach Places calls out the challenges that women are constantly faced with by society. How can a woman have time to hold a full-time - or even part-time - job when she has a child? How does a woman remain confident the older she gets when everything around her keeps telling her it's all over? Lumb shows what a balancing act it can be sorting through all the crap with short and rapid circus acts, movement, dance and spoken word that are thoughtful and provoking.
Under the direction of Rebecca Church, the pair emphasise the playfulness and humour of these issues while not diminishing their seriousness and importance. In one act, Lumb delivers a gripping spoken piece on an abusive relationship as she interacts with a circus ring to physically represent the trauma and emotions of that experience.
It's ironic that during a show about over-extending yourself and trying to control the chaos that life throws at you, Lumb accidentally cuts her finger with a potato peeler. It is a perfect example of life imitating art imitating life as she pushes on and finds ways to incorporate it into her performance. It could not have been planned better.
Being a circus performer, Lumb naturally has several dazzling and eye-catching costumes, but they are not the easiest to take on and off. It is here that the show lulls with too much dead time during the changes and Lumb needs to keep the audience more actively engaged on these occasions to keep the momentum building.
Hard To Reach Places is an inspiring manifesto that encourages people to open up about their fears, their anxieties and their fuck ups, and to not let these define who they are and what they want to be. It's impressive how much Lumb unpacks and explores in this highly absorbing feminist carnival.
Venue: Trades Hall, Cnr Lygon & Victoria Sts,
Season: until 20 September | Tues - Sat 8:45pm, Sun 7:45pm
Length: 45 minutes
Tickets: $25 Full | $22 Group 4+, Conc
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival