Barely [by Matt Baker]
As a mature performer, Jennifer De Leon presents a unique physicality, and there is no ignoring the athleticism and talent that she has acquired over the years, but a unique and talented performer does not a successful performance make. From the incompetently read and poorly recorded voice over, which for the life of me I cannot understand was not performed live, to the lengthy silent blackouts, my awareness that this was a passion project, and would subsequently leave me with very little, peaked.
I interpreted nothing in this show beyond what was shown to me. I found no theme, no narrative, and no character. If De Leon is presenting us with an autobiographical “journey”, which is feels as though she is, she must still present us with an onstage persona. Every performance artist brings elements of themselves to their roles in varying degrees, but they are still performing. A lack of theatrical construction in performance is otherwise self-indulgent.
De Leon presents us with incredibly impressive physical feats, but they are nothing more than this. They don’t tell a story or present us with an emotional journey. They are poses, not phrases. Add to this one of the most monotonous sleep-inducing soundtracks I have ever heard, and the show doesn’t just wane, it never leaves the ground.
As an audience member, there was nothing with which I could engage in this performance. De Leon does notoffer her audience anything other than a voyeuristic experience, and, whilethat is a certainly a theme in this production and a component of any performance art, relying on it for an hour results in a tedious watch. The last time I came that close to falling asleep in a show was because I was in a different time zone.
Stripped Bare is presented by Poyema Dance and plays at the Q Loft until Feb 18. For details see Q Theatre
SEE ALSO: Theatreview review by Raewyn Whyte