Auckland-based theatre and performance artist Julia Croft created If There’s Not Dancing at the Revolution, I’m Not Coming because she is angry. She calls it a ‘tiny call to arms’. Rather than direct confrontation, Julia performs a series of vignettes borrowing lines and visuals from popular movies and music. Almost surreptitiously, she leads us down a rabbit hole exposing the portrayal of women in media, weaving stories that paint a damning and mesmerising picture.
At the start of the hour, frumpy Julia morphs into different characters by shedding layers of her bulky costume – astoundingly, she carries most of her props with her – enough to prepare a vodka tonic, and later even gorge on a Happy Meal as she peels off costumes. It is a literal and metaphoric strip-tease like never seen before.
The vignettes deconstruct how women are portrayed in film, contrasting the demure and passive roles as in in Titanic or Notting Hill, to the brutal reduction as objects of sexual desire in Psycho, Blue Velvet and Basic Instinct. At other times, it is full-on party mode. Pop-music pounding, gorging on a culture of junk food and clubbing. It’s electric and hypnotic.
As the message is received by the audience, she leaves the stage momentarily, and in the penumbra of a set littered with parts of the characters she played, Taylor Swift’s Love Story playing juxtaposed with the lyrics of the Ying Yang Twins song glorifying sexual violence. Julia returns to the stage, silent, bare, costumes piled upon her head, subdued into shame. Undoubtedly one the most powerful climaxes we’ve seen on stage.
Christian G. is an international man of mystery; lover of books, cats and the performing arts; moonlighting as a finance professional by day.
If there’s not dancing at the revolution, I’m not coming runs 17-22 September 2017 at the Arts House, North Melbourne. Buy tickets now.
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Read our guide to the Melbourne Fringe Festival.