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Fringe World, News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

A star on the rise

Fringe World review: Charlotte Otton, Feminah ·
The Blue Room Theatre as part of Summer Nights ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

Brash and witty, Feminah takes its audience on a brief romp through the history of feminism and female sexuality in the Western World, from the 1800s to today. Written and performed by local theatre-maker Charlotte Otton, this “seminar” is cleverly interspersed with stories of her own experiences and confrontations with the subject matter.

It’s by no means exhaustive – at the outset Otton states that she’s coming at the topic from the perspective of a 24 year old, white, straight, cisgender female. And the concept – of flipping between external and personal narratives – is nothing new. So why does Feminah grab the audience by the scruff of its proverbial neck?

Firstly there’s Otton’s sharp, dark and frequently dirty sense of humour. Without giving away any punchlines, the great “knee-reveal” of the 1920s was a personal favourite, as was the patriarchy/oral sex analogy. Listen out for Otton’s muttered asides – they’re gold.

Then there’s her cabaret-style crooning. Accompanied by the coolly understated Joe Lui on electric guitar, Otton’s sultry contralto punctuates the decades. Her version of “Someone to Watch Over Me”, fluctuates deliciously between rich sensuality and an eye-rolling subversion of the song’s submissive lyrics. Another highlight is her tongue-in-cheek take on Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time”.

Lastly there’s Otton’s honesty. An exposed breast is not all that’s laid bare; she shares plenty. Memories of  awkward sexual encounters are funny and revealing, but it’s the childhood snapshots of body-shaming comments and advice that are most discomforting. Otton is a child of the new millennium. In her vulnerability we see, shockingly, the progress that hasn’t been made.

And she’s angry about it – as well she might be. That anger explodes into a furious finale, that’s mad, bad… but somehow hopeful.

Otton’s star is on the rise. Feminah is a winner.

Feminah plays The Blue Room Theatre until January 26.

You can also catch Otton’s play Let me finish. at the Circus Theatre @ Fringe Central, February 12-17. Read Claire Trolio’s review of the 2018 season.

And check out Otton’s Fringe Session Q&A.

Pictured top: Otton’s childhood snapshots of body-shaming are striking and moving. Photo: Marshall Stay.

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Feminah
Features, Fringe World, News, Performing arts, Theatre

Wreaking feminist havoc

Charlotte Otton may be a Sydneysider by birth but in the four years that she’s been living in Perth, she’s carved out a niche for herself in the local independent theatre scene as a theatre maker and performer. Her debut play Let me finish. enjoyed a sell-out season at The Blue Room Theatre and was named a “Top Show” for 2018 by Seesaw’s Claire Trolio, who described it as “bold, brash and powerfully feminist”.

Just three months later, she is premiering her one-woman play, Feminah, described as “a havoc-wreaking power ballad that embraces the vulgar women of the world.” Just hours before opening night, Otton squeezed in Seesaw’s Q&A.

Charlotte Otton headshot
Charlotte Otton

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be a performer?
Charlotte Otton: The earliest indication for me was probably when my mum took me to see Annie on the mainstage in Sydney when I was five. I don’t know if my memory is built from stories or real memories, but regardless, I know I was singing along to every song and wanted to be up on that stage. My absolute dream role, to this day, is to play Miss Hannigan.

S: Tell us about your training… 
CO: I’ve studied mostly improvisation; I started in Sydney and then studied in Chicago and New York for a few months. It’s the first training I had where I got a hint of the type of artist I could be. Then when I was 20 years old, I moved to Perth to do the Performance Making course at WAAPA. That course really shifted and clarified things for me, it made me take myself more seriously as an artist.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
CO: I’m still discovering it, but at the moment I’m interested in telling brutally honest stories and bringing comedy, filth, glee and spontaneity to the forefront of my work.

S: Career highlight so far?
CO: The very final performance of Let me finish. at The Blue Room in October last year. It was such an emotionally charged performance and the love from the standing crowd at the end and the women on stage was unlike anything I’ve experienced in a show before.

S: Career lowlight?
CO: I did a monologue as David Koch “Kochi”, the Sunrise presenter, for an end of year drama concert once when I was 14. I wore my dad’s suit and I think I just did a weather segment… I should bring it back. Perth audiences would love it.

S: Funniest career moment so far?
CO: Maybe when I played a series of animals and objects in the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre and WASO collaboration of “Carnival of the Animals”. It’s a not a funny “ha ha” moment, it was more just me straight out of uni, playing a flowerpot, looking out into the crowd of 1500 audience members at Perth Concert Hall, wondering how I got to that place.

S: Tell us about Feminah… 
CO: Feminah is about one woman on a war-path to discover and dismantle the constructs that have made her the woman she is today. It’s a personal battle of expressing femininity and vulgarity.

It’s equal parts bawdy and vulnerable. Think personal stories, ridiculous history lessons, primo filth and live music!

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
CO: Silence My Ladyhead, Grace, Manwatching, Poorly Drawn Shark and The Big City are just some of the ones I’m excited to see!

S: What is your favourite part of the playground?
CO: I love a good monkey bar set, but an adult one, I’m 6ft. 1, I’ve been dragging my feet on monkey bars since I was 10.

Feminah plays The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights, January 18-26.

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Feminah
Calendar, Fringe World, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre: Feminah

18-26 January @ The Blue Room Theatre ·
Presented by Charlotte Otton & The Blue Room
Theatre Summer Nights ·

Feminah is a cabaret piece about the vulgar women of the world; the women that embrace all things trashy and beastly and that celebrate their intrinsically hideous selves. It is a power ballad for women too scared to unleash the beast within and let her wreak havoc. Feminah follows one woman on a war-path to dismantle every structure set in place to keep her calm and appropriate; she’s here to destroy the town, and maybe take you with it.

A solo show created by Perth’s staunchly seductive powerhouse Charlotte Otton, Feminah is an ode to women that censor themselves for the sake of being professional or tasteful.

Presented with The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights, this explosion of gritty
femininity is what happens when a woman refuses the idea of ‘having it all’ and instead, annihilates it.

Charlotte Otton’s debut sell out show Let me finish. was nominated for 7 of The Blue Room Theatre’s 2018 awards, and won the Member’s Choice and Judge’s Choice awards!

“One of the most exciting shows I’ve seen in the indie sector for a few years,
I’m very keen to see what happens next for the artists involved.” -Performing Lines

“Charlotte has a real comedic gift”- OUTinPerth

“Charollet you have a very sexy attractive leg”- Jovan from Tinder

Writer & Performer: Charlotte Otton
Live Composer & Lighting Designer: Joe Lui
Dramaturg & Mentor: Libby Klysz
Stage Manager: Jessie Atkins
Producer: Alexander Egloff
Publicist: Kayla MacGillivray

More info
W: www.fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/feminah-fw2019
E:  kayla.macgillivray@gmail.com

Pictured: Charlotte Otton, credit: Marshall Stay

 

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