Brighton Fringe 2017
Let the party begin: Liz Aggiss leads us through a hurly-burly of female notions and makes sure we don’t sit too comfortable as in the end: we all have balls.
Tonight at the Old Market the goddess of all woman is about to perform her stance on all things female and oh does she make us laugh, cringe and keep the audience on its toes.
In an extremely well choreographed piece driven by an outstanding soundtrack there is not a minute left where I don’t feel challenged and in which I don’t find myself questioning a range of stereotypical female personae which are presented to the audience in a series of comical yet often disturbing tableaux vivants.
Using rhythm, tempo and pace as her main tool the performance is accompanied by her characteristic range of facial expression and dance movements. Liz Aggiss is often borderline and asks the audience to fully engage themselves into a fairground ride which is full of fun and follies. The spectators find themselves engaged in games where they are asked to unpack parcels (where I was one of the lucky ones to find a duster cloth with an erected penis drawn on it) or to maltreat and rub a sausage dog balloon.
Using a range of popular performance techniques she cleverly mixes opposites from high and low art when she dances around in outlavish costumes while talking basely about bitches. By means of repetition we are reminded that ‘Look John, look! See John, see! Janet found her balls (and cock) eventually’.
And yes, things regarding the female perception have to change so Aggiss lets some copper (the change) fall from her vagina to the floor but also reminds us of those uncomfortable moments where the breastfeeding and ‘leaking’ mother in the room conjures sexual undertones which somewhat sit uncomfortable with us.
Aggiss has devised an excellent piece of work. Not only does she hold the audiences’ attention as the sole performer but she highlights the regressive female representations we surround ourselves with in daily life. She does not hold back in confronting the audience with what they might find inherently challenging as questions about motherhood (the slightly scary puppet baby doll) and the woman who is the house horse which needs to be ridden. Aggiss also guides us through the different ages of womanhood and addresses issues regarding the ageing female body and its representation in society.
Her change and use of consume is cleverly and precisely thought through and she manages to use the whole of the stage by folkloring, pouncing, hip hopping and balleying from one end of the stage to the other. Using the loudspeaker as a faint but demanding and directing voice which speaks to us we are cleverly part of the performance and find ourselves within her guiding hands. Her performance is clearly situated well within the live art context with females working with gender notions as Marcia Farquhar and fellow dancer La Ribot or the cabaret and fairground performer (and former student) Marisa Carnesky.
Watching Slap and Tickle we are constantly reminded that we are invited to a party in which we should not sit too comfortably. The programme brochure tells us that Liz Aggiss in her youth was one of the children who should never be seen or heard and she does exactly the opposite: We hear her voice speak out for all those mistreated, undervalued, under-represented and understated females out there and we love her for it. Thanks for inviting us to your party Liz!