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Fringe World review: Leah Shelton, Bitch on Heat ·
The Blue Room, February 6 ·
Review by David Zampatti ·

They come along once in a blue moon. Shows that stop you dead in your tracks.

Neil Watkin’s sordid, poetic, The Year of Magical Wanking in 2012; Bryony Kimming’s daring, beautifully structured Sex Idiot in 2015; Lucy Jane Parkinson’s rambunctious, salty Joan last year.

All of them took no prisoners; all of them cranked up the dial; all of them changed what to expect, what you need to know, and what you must allow.

Now there’s another. Leah Shelton’s Bitch On Heat journeys down roads well travelled in contemporary theatre – female objectification, abuse, mental and physical violence and abandonment – but she does it in a high-octane, warp-speed battlewagon, leaving plenty of roadkill in its wake.

The result is fresh, massively empowering for its female audience and, to put it mildly, thought-provoking for male watchers.

The show is almost entirely physical action and lip-synch (the one line of spoken dialogue, “Shut the fuck up!”, makes shocking sense on a whole pile of levels), and the inventiveness of Shelton’s transitions, from a blow-up sex doll Pandora to a rapine old man (“Women are food”), from a cynical, transactional society dame to an exhausted, dejected and abandoned woman stripped of everything but pride, is incredible.

The great violence in the piece – inflicted and retributive – is stunningly enacted, its energy doesn’t flag for an instant, the clarity of its action, and what its action represents, is beyond impressive.

Shelton is simply magnificent, and her set and costume work is superlatively shocking and amazingly theatrically practical. Much credit is also due to Ursula Martinez (also performing in Perth this month as Perth Festival’s artist-in-residence), who directs this whirlwind of a show with precision, surprise and great humour, and to Kenneth Lyons, whose sound design is perfect.

The songs for the show, apart from their exquisite appropriateness (of course you should hack up your attacker to Cilla Black’s You’re My World, underplayed with fx from the Psycho shower scene, and celebrate your handi/knifi/axi-work with some pole acrobatics to Led Zep’s Immigrant Song; of course you should close the show with Martha Wainwright’s Bloody Motherfucking Arsehole), deliver the two things so often infuriatingly missing in most stage shows. They are played LOUD, and, more often than not, complete.

I’ve seen pretty much everything on The Blue Room stages in the last decade; don’t think I’ve ever seen an audience there so totally gobsmacked. This bloody, motherfucking thing will sell out. Hope you get in before it does.

Bitch on Heat plays at the Blue Room until February 9.

Caption: Leah Shelton rams home her message.

Photographer: FenLan Chuang

 

 

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BItch on Heat
Calendar, Fringe World, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre: Bitch on Heat

5 – 9 February @ The Blue Room ·
Presented by The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights
& Leah Shelton ·

Love latex and hate the patriarchy? Pour a drink, ditch the leash, and come revel in this twisted rehashing of the vintage sexism that drives how we live and love and fight and f*ck.

Absurdist lip-synch meets high-camp performance art in this pop-fuelled critique of sexual politics in the age of implied consent. Nothing is sacred as psycho-siren Leah Shelton trawls through a Pandora’s box of ancient myths, porn, pop-culture, instructional records and revenge movie heroines.

Welcome to the doghouse. Beware. This Bitch bites.

Created by Leah Shelton (Terror Australis, La Clique) and directed by UK performance art royalty Ursula Martinez.

“no answers, just a full set of can’t-tear-your-eyes-away provocations” (NHIB)

More info:
www.fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/bitch-on-heat-fw2019

Pictured:
Bitch on Heat, credit Sarah Walker

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