REVIEW: Stripped Bare (Auckland Fringe)

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

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3 Comments on REVIEW: Stripped Bare (Auckland Fringe)

  1. It has been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but what happens when there is no beauty in the soul of the beholder? Matt’s critique leaves me cold. I cannot believe that he was in the same audience as I was. And that he did not see or that his heart did not feel….. If to review an artist’s work calls for someone to find how many ways they can tear them down then Matt has indeed fulfilled this. Correct me if I am wrong – I did believe that the modern art of reviewing was a practice in which only constructive critiquing was observed.

  2. I got home from seeing one of the most amazing pieces of dance i have ever seen- totally tripping from the experience and then decided to check out the reviews for the fringe and pride shows as I have a very limited budget and am, very slightly, influenced by reviews but interested to read someones opinion.
    I could not believe what this person wrote about Jennifer De Leon’s performance.
    To write there was nothing I could engage in this performance. What!!! From the opening with the slowly blooming hands, I smiled with total enjoyment, empathising totally with a performance that was raw, emotional, physically technical and body stretching.
    The voice over was extremely clear. Where you sitting out in the foyer? Of course it should not be performed live – Jennifer is a Dancer not an actor. Dont you have any idea of the atmospheric sense of theatre?
    There are so many sites now with so many”reviewers”. Oh, please, let the people who know what they are reviewing – review.
    This”review” criticised with not a lot of critical reason. Just crap.
    An amazing performance that I will never forget. Yes, MY opinion from a reviewer for over 7 years in the Whanganui Chronicle.

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