It’s going to take me awhile to collect my thoughts after seeing Betty Grumble: Love & Anger last night, because for the first time in a long time I was truly shocked. So strap yourself in…here we go.
Betty Grumble’s got a soft spot for Perth, and she’s happy to show it to you. So embrace it, dive deep, lean into the uncomfortable, and get ready for the ride of your life. The whirlwind flesh riot of womanifesto, protest party, dancing dissent and deep push back-ery that is Betty Grumble is here to deliver up her body as a bloody love letter, showing self-love as the radical act that it is.
Through song, dance, poetry, stories, self, vulnerability, exhibitionism and an up-close look at her not-so-private parts, Betty Grumble gets messy as she cracks open societal pressures and pushes through issues of shame, pain, celebration and bodily control.
With epic unstoppable energy, and impressive feats of stamina and flexibility, Betty Grumble is an explosive and confronting sex clown with a performance unlike anything you have EVER seen before.
At times hilariously funny and heart-warming, but most often challenging, bold, visceral, hilarious and evocative, Love & Anger is a powerful call to arms exploring the role of a woman’s body in politics and play.
At the heart of her scattered and chaotic narrative is Valerie Solanus’s radially feminist SCUM Manifesto, written in the 1960s. It argues that men have ruined the world, and that it’s up to women to fix it, and Betty Grumble reads from the text sporadically throughout the performance, with a lot more love and good vibes than the original work ever imagined.
From vulgar displays, pussy power and a whole new take on lip syncing, to high kicks, her mother’s body building bikini, raunchy art where every print is unique, the stripping of costume and makeup that sees her truly get naked, and a show stopping, muscle-clenching floral arrangement, life and love energy flow through everything Betty Grumble does.
Throughout the performance there is an emphasis on consent and making the right decisions for your own body – right from the start Betty Grumble says that anyone who finds the performance too confronting is free to leave at any time (and several people do), and when she gets an audience member up on stage she makes the boundaries very clear and ensures they are comfortable being involved being getting stuck into the flowery finale. Each obscene act is delivered with love and respect, a heavy dose of playfulness and a growing low rumbling sound, a gurgle, a murmur, to kick up a stink and make a fuss.
I won’t lie – there were times when Love & Anger made me squirm and it definitely tested the boundaries of what I’m comfortable with watching. But the conversations it evoked were worth that discomfort, as it made me question everything from the definition of art and its boundaries, to the lengths women go to have their voices heard. How would this message have been received if she had kept her clothes on? If she wasn’t young, white and conventionally attractive? If a man did something similar? It brought up issues of body positivity, about what different people are comfortable with, about how hard life can be when you have to think about politics, economics and the environment all the while trying to get through every single day.
The stage is left trashed, liquids and fluids and juiciness everywhere, costumes and water and makeup, paper and paint, flowers and more, the result of the wicked and wild riot explosion that is Betty Grumble.
Betty Grumble: Love & Anger is already sold out tonight, but if you’re quick you might be able to get your hands on tickets for Sunday 10th February, 8:20pm at Megamouth at Yagan Square.
But remember, this is not for the prudish or faint-hearted!
*I was gifted media tickets for this show. All opinions are my own.