REVIEW: If There’s Not Dancing at the Revolution, I’m Not Coming

Review by Matt Baker

If There's "Not Dancing" at the Basement, then I am definitely coming

[This is Julia]

If There's "Not Dancing" at the Basement, then I am definitely coming
If There’s “Not Dancing” at the Basement, then I am definitely coming

Julia Croft’s one-woman show If There’s Not Dancing at the Revolution, I’m Not Coming was not only one of my favourite two shows from 2015, but also one of the best pieces of theatre I have ever witnessed. Seeing the show for a second time, I found that while I maintained a superficial recognition of the original, I once again savoured each moment, as if it were a whole new experience. No show is ever the same, but to recreate such a theatrical journey is no mean feat, an example of how effecting this work is.

Soundscapes, (16) costume changes, and occasional projection and diegetic or recorded voice, construct a variety of vignettes, in which Croft and director Virginia Frankovich present a damning, no holds barred account of the portrayal of women in film. From Psycho and CSI to Notting Hill and Titanic (the latter two being traditionally considered romantic for all intents and purposes), Croft and Frankovich expose the male gaze in all its patriarchal “glory”. From juxtaposing the Ying Yang Twins The Whisper Song and Taylor Swift’s Love Story, to the consumption of junk food and clubbing, these theatre makers illustrate how easily a subtle shift in perspective can collapse cinematic history and drastically alter our way of seeing.

Standing silently in the Basement studio, Croft watches as the audience enters and takes their seats. Dozens of mirrors on stage stare back, we’re watching ourselves as much as we’re watching Croft. And so is she. What Croft puts herself through for her audience is nothing short of courageous. From the way in which pen and paper control and distort women as mere objects, to the media’s use of sex to not only sell, but to warp the actions of young women, there is nothing Croft won’t do to make her point. At times the absurdity is hilarious, Croft has an excellent comedic exuberance, but now and then this façade of style shatters, the gaudiness turns ugly, the laughs turn silent, the message is received. It’s all incredibly articulated, and incredibly confronting.

Neither Croft nor Frankovich pull their punches when it comes to their subject matter. There is simply not one stone unturned and not one superfluous beat. Every moment is weighted and fuelled with a potency that slowly fills the Basement studio. In the last moments of utter stillness, we sit fixated on Croft, the air dense, as the past 55-minutes resonate in a cacophony of silence. Not only have I been entertained, I feel that I have been educated: I feel like a better person having seen this show.

If There’s Not Dancing at the Revolution, I’m Not Coming is a dense work, in that it mines so much from its content. I don’t think I could respect anyone who couldn’t take something away from this show. This is my call to arms. This is for people in Auckland (for now) to witness this remarkable piece of theatre, and to challenge both themselves and others with the chords it strikes within them. This is Julia. This is theatre.

The return season of If There’s Not Dancing at the Revolution, I’m Not Coming plays at The Basement until 27 Feb. Details see The Basement.

SEE ALSO: Theatreview.org.nz review by Dione Joseph 

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