Presented by Brodie John
Reviewed 15th November 2017
Burlesque By Force received its world premiere at the Nexus Art Space as part of the 2017 Feast Festival.
The show is a tale of sexual assault, abuse, and the lingering impact that can be left on a victim. It is a predominately spoken word production that opens with Brodie John bowing at the end of a show to the side of the stage and then entering a dressing room set up for the main show of Burlesque By Force.
There is alternation between a poetic pre-recorded audio voice and John directly projecting to the audience. It charges straight into the description of assault and the attempted recovery experienced. It comes across as a deeply personal production that teases the intimate details and the struggle to cope, rather than a usual burlesque production of teasing with the body.
The jump from the opening bowing to the information about rape is very sudden with little opportunity to connect with the character at the beginning. After a short while the character’s motivations and quirks become clearer, however, the abruptness did cut short the early character development and reduce the opportunities to connect.
Despite some concerns with the character development, the role is well performed with wit carefully added through highly animated facial expressions and slight moments of overacting to emphasise the character’s position as an artist.
The simple stage set up and smoothly incorporated costume changes allow John to shine out on the stage in his role. There is a charismatic edge to his performance that helps make the dark topics more approachable. This combined with the poetry in the script remove the potential confrontational nature of the themes that the audience is ‘trigger warned’ about on many occasions prior to the show beginning.
Burlesque By Force is quite a short production with room for additional material to be added as the show evolves. Following its run with the Feast Festival the show will be featuring as part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival next year.
Reviewed by Alex Dunkin
Venue: Nexus Arts, Lion Arts Centre
Season: 15th – 18th November 2017
Duration: 50 mins
Tickets: $15.00 – $20.00