BWW REVIEW: Betty Grumble's LOVE AND ANGER Is A Power Expression Of Feminine Power And Personal Connection
Tuesday 22nd January 2019, 7pm, SBW Stables
Betty Grumble, aka Emma Maye Gibson, brings her celebration of all things female and call to reinstate the power of the feminine to Griffin Theatre with LOVE AND ANGER. A bizarre burlesque cabaret that is both comic and contemplative, this is definitely an unusual evening of theatre.
As the audience enters the intimate SBW Stables theatre space they are greeted by Grumble already on stage. She wears an ensemble that echoes the backdrop and props, white adorned with handwritten text and symbols that draw on the words used to describe women from the positive and the negative, words used by women to unite and seek change, and names of people connected to Grumble/Gibson. Whilst the set and Grumble are predominantly monochromatic including the white disheveled Marie Antoinette wig, she bears extreme clownish drag makeup of bright colors.
Without giving too much away, Grumble's definition of the work as "queer feminist avante garde" is a good way to describe the unusual work that utilizes dance, music, book readings, poetry and a new type of Rorschach test. LOVE AND ANGER is about regaining power over the feminine form and removing the stigma of exposing bare flesh and Grumble/Gibson is definitely comfortable in her own skin. It is also about the need to remove the patriarchal society, using excerpts from American radical feminist Valerie Solanas' SCUM MANIFESTO to punctuate her argument that women need to take control of a world that men have been destroying. Presented two years on from the January 2017 Women's Marchs in the United States and around the world (which were repeated in 2018 and 2019) LOVE AND ANGER also encourages women and their supporters to unite and support on each other, drawing on positive energy whilst empowering them to reject destructive and demeaning behavior and language.
Grumble presents the work with wonderful physical comedy and brilliantly funny observations. The physicality and choreography is impressive and often alarmingly inventive. Her vocals are strong as she presents a range of music to backing tracks and she connects with the audience throughout. There is an honesty and vulnerability that sits beneath the confident and comfortable exterior which allows the audience to see beneath the armor of makeup that helps separate Grumble from Gibson. There is a degree of audience interaction whilst ensuring that the issue of consent is openly addressed, accepting that people may be overwhelmed and may want to leave and that people may want to connect on different levels, from the active participant to the passive observer. Whilst other performers would potentially put their audience on the spot Grumble presents the work with an understanding of respect which is refreshing.
Roaringly funny and filled with flesh, LOVE AND ANGER is an empowering protest piece promoting the power of women whilst being a celebration of the female form. Funny and inventive and at times eye opening this is an entertaining night for anyone with an open mind and a desire to build a better world for women.
LOVE AND ANGER