Other Women is powerful and unapologetic. The work is loaded with determination and tenacity, and the stage is loaded up with a fabulous all-female ensemble of performers, a mighty all-male live band, and circus, burlesque, song, and dance performances. After acknowledging their privilege as white, cisgender women and welcoming their audience, the four strong women indulge the Wonderland festival with an hour of fun, fierceness and feminism.
Host Lizzie Moore grounded the performance as the emcee for the night, lending her guttural voice as a guide for the audience as they journeyed through brazen discussion and discerning quotes from classic and contemporary music industry and media, voicing the majority of the work’s musical numbers. Beside her stood Rosie Peaches, Eliza Dolly, and Chloe-Rose Taylor, who danced from the stage into audience and conquered circus hoops and silks from great heights; all the while modelling fabulous costumes and an overall aura of grandeur.
The work grounded itself in classic burlesque style with copious amounts of audience participation, powerful musical numbers – predominantly popular pop and punk songs from the past 40 years – and even a cheeky strip tease or two. The work pushed beyond these typical burlesque and cabaret trends when it tackled conversations around misogyny, sexism, and double standards surrounding power and identity between men and women. The fun beginnings and atmosphere of empowerment was quickly met with a segment where host Lizzie Moore read aloud popularised lyrics and quotes from media and public figures to demonstrate their hidden sexist and abusive messages. The audience’s groans and fidgets in discomfort were matched with a cheerily sarcastic attitude from Moore. This initially provided comic relief, however Moore’s response also managed to cleverly demonstrate the brush-aside attitude applied to so much of the media’s horrifying ability to misconstrue inappropriate content and manipulate consumers with a catchy tune or social media platform.
Another example of powerful juxtaposition included a sombre piano-lead tune about the ‘Other Woman’ while Eliza Dolly glided her way up metres of silk and gracefully manipulated her body with control and grace while audience members looked up in awe. Chloe-Rose Taylor elegantly floated her way from restrictive 1950s ideals to a liberating stripping of layers and embrace of her own body, exhibiting discipline when required and an overall sense of fluidity and passion throughout. Rosie Peaches’ empowering strip tease in a utopian feminist future was definitely a highlight of the night with her gradual removal of layers and a large bustled dress -resonant of the Victorian era – revealing empowering statements written across fabric.
The show was as aesthetically pleasing as it was bursting with talent and artistry from the band and performers. The rich lighting design perfectly complimented the array of fabulous costumes. The design, when paired with perfectly fitting tunes, managed to stretch across eras and focal topics, and adapt throughout the acts to fit the constant snaps between comedic and sultry representations.
The Other Women were strong in their performances and frank in their discussion. With excellently positioned clashes of masterful talent with offerings of unsettling realities for women in their workplaces, family lives, representations in the media, and everyday existence, the work is simultaneously empowering yet frustrating to experience. It boldly and unapologetically demonstrates everyday examples of oppression and sexism towards women, while also providing an overall sense of empowerment and hope. Other Women is a wonderfully powerful contribution to a discussion that is sadly as necessary now as ever.
– Written by Rhumer Diball November 29th 2016
OTHER WOMEN PRESENTED BY CHARMING REBEL, WAX LYRICAL PRODUCTIONS AND BRISBANE POWERHOUSE.
FRI NOV 26 – SAT DEC 03 2016.
Photo credit Joel Devereux.