Melbourne Fringe 2017
Betty Grumble makes her way to Melbourne Fringe following a breakthrough year on the Fringe circuit internationally to save the world.
The audience walks in to a scene of a dumpster in which we find half a body with legs (resplendent with high heels) twitching and protruding from a trash can. And with that you can’t look away from beginning to end as Betty Grumble, sex clown, emerges from the dumpster and entangled in the by-products of human consumption, in this multisensory delight. Bursting with colour, song, movement and dance that dazzles with its fluidity, pizazz and infectious joie de vivre.
Betty is an ecosexual (an intersectional form of activism with levity, love and joy at its heart) who sees the Earth as a lover instead of the proverbial mother. In a sneaky audience participation moment she coerces us to recite with her the ecosexual motto. And with that, she ordains us all as ecosexuals as she takes us on her pilgrimage of being woman, lover, activist and warrior towards her dream of a society of justice.
It’s fundamentally Betty’s connection with her lover Gaia (Earth) and the destruction of her through wanton and deliberate destruction by deforestation, mining, animal agriculture and the like, that drives her activism. But it’s also Betty’s outrage at institutionalised misogyny that gets her primal outrage going. And her enthusiasm for that outrage is so energetic that it inevitably reaches a trance-like state in every character she portrays to the point that it is hypnotic for the audience when she achieves this mantra-like enthusiasm. Always in control, she masterfully brings the energy back down to move her crusade along.
Betty morphs from sex clown to witch to Amazonian warrior to Gaia herself in an effortless way as she garners her costume change from the rubbish from the dumpster. She takes on the role of antagonist in showing the rape of the world, including from the inside out.
It’s a visual feat (and feast) and although nudity is a key element of the show, it’s done to perfection ranging from primal to graceful to sometimes desperate frustration with the abuse of the Gaia. There’s poo. There’s an anal firework. There’s using her intestines as a skipping rope. There’s an actual vagina singing. And as you leave the show, you realise not a thing was out of place with any of that.
I left thankful for the experience and humbled that Betty Grumble has taken on saving the world on behalf of all of us with this level of energy and gusto, even if it is driven from her private sexual reasons.