Julia Croft’s ‘performance collage’ is an unconventional piece of theatre, laying bare -quite literally – the representation of women’s bodies in contemporary popular (western) culture. Swathed in an extraordinary number of layers, Croft’s exploration evokes the shedding of skins, as she sloughs off costume after costume to reveal yet another unpalatable image of womanhood. Finally, she stands before us, naked and silent. The preposterous outfits are now heaped on her head, disguising her face, but exposing the truth: this is a female body.
It’s a serious, disturbing and thought-provoking production, but there is laughter here too: Croft is an engaging performer, interacting with the audience, prolonging eye contact and forcing us from our comfort zones. But the apparent simplicity is deceptive; our expectations are subverted here. The familiar is exposed as absurd; what we have come to accept is clearly unacceptable. The juxtaposition of The Ying Yang Twins’ The Whisper Song with Taylor Swift’s Love Story makes for a particularly discomfiting vignette, as does a mirroring of a scene from horror movie House of Wax: while Paris Hilton, clad improbably in underwear, flees a serial killer on screen, Croft, similarly dressed, crawls around the small performance space, climbing over and under the audience, bringing the horror far too close for comfort, showing how brutal the scene really is.
This is an important piece, I think, that a lot of people should see. Be one of them. You won’t regret it.