Walk into ‘Low Level Panic‘ and step back into a share house from the 80s. Prepare to be greeted by 80s pop classics and an optional glass of wine.
In the white space at L1 Studios, all attention is focused on the scenery in the corner of the room. A baby pink wooden frame cleverly creates the walls, door, and windows of a bathroom. Speaking of bathrooms, you can check cool bathroom products here. A white bath and shower curtains, a sink, and a moss-green armchair (who has an armchair in the bathroom?!) complete the setup.
Meet Mary and Jo, two young London women who share a house along with Celia. The next 80 minutes is a fascinating and unrestrained glimpse into one weekend in their lives, and their innermost thoughts and feelings. On the surface these are fairly well-discussed in society and the media. But delve a little deeper and it may be surprising.
Start with body image: it comes up all the time, from fashion and gossip magazines telling women they should be tall and slim, to reports that this sort of advertising is damaging women and girls. But Jo goes one step further. She helps the audience understand how that can make women feel alone and lacking, and how internal acceptance is affected by external events.
While Jo is clamouring for affection and people’s desire, Mary is struggling with being seen as sexy (or just as female). Her account of sexual harassment, using an atmospheric sound over, is chilling – you feel her fear.
Celia is a third, rather prim voice. Unfortunately she doesn’t share her private thoughts and it would be good to hear more from her.
Overall, ‘Low Level Panic’ is a frank, dirty, emotive and often humorous view of how society sees and treats women. In a world where female bodies, sexuality and even physical safety is fair game, it’s an interesting and important change to hear the affects first-hand.
It might be that girls don’t *just* wanna have fun.
Lucie Bradley is a scientist, communicator, and co-founder of Laneway Learning. You can keep up with her through @lucie_bee.
‘Low Level Panic’ runs as part of Melbourne Fringe until 30 September at L1 Studios.
The venue is not wheelchair accessible.
For more Melbourne Fringe 2016, check out our guide and all our reviews.