FRINGE 2018 – CABARET – Burlesque by Force – Nexus – 4.5K

By Peter Maddern

Brodie John’s solo show is an often brutal affair for both performer and his audience. It is about sexuality, overt sexuality in a straight guy’s world, about first sexual encounters and about sexual encounters that go wrong – for no fault of one’s own. It’s about seeking joy and pleasure but being left with scars. His is a story devoid of that glow we were sold on when it came to marriage equality – this vote for love will solve all gay men’s problems. His story is all the more harrowing and embarrassing for this is not about the 19th century world of Oscar Wilde or post war world of Alan Turing; this is about all the few years of the current century.

One feels sure Marissa Bennett’s direction teased out and toned down the feelings, trauma and outrage that John’s own script may have exuded so we get a finely nuanced and nicely worked production that has our player mostly either reflecting at the dressing room table or robing and de-robing at his clothes stand.

As an audience member the hope is that the truth has been ‘gilded’ for dramatic effect, for maybe that gives us a permission to leave the room after without a need to make some useful gesture of remorse for the members of our town who have hurt and violated such a sweet soul. However, as much as one may wish this, the nagging and dominating doubt is that we only got unvarnished facts.

Burlesque By Force is a powerful work, superbly delivered and coming as it did ahead of the #metoo / Harvey Weinstein era another timely reminder that it takes more than books to be truly civilised in our behaviour towards one another and Australian society’s embrace of homosexuality has a very long way to go that gestures won’t do much to resolve.

Kryztoff Rating   4.5K

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