Andrea Spisto: Miss Venezuela (4 stars)

Andrea Spisto: Miss Venezuela

Venezuelan artist boldly creating work while her country burns

Clown comedy doesn't always have a specific message or profound theme, but when it does, it can often become a powerful and unexpectedly moving experience. Andrea Spisto's Miss Venezuela may be a mish-mash of character comedy, dance, absurd physical theatre and dynamic clowning, but it has a fundamental message at its heart, as Spisto tears apart her identity as a queer Venezuelan woman.

We meet her in preparation for the Miss Universe competition, as the pageant music plays on a loop with a pushy voiceover challenging her at every turn. She repeats the all-important walk over and over, with each iteration revealing that little bit more of her frustrations with the specific notion of womanhood and perfection projected by this element of pageantry. When she eventually snaps, kicking off her sparkly heels and trading her ball gown for a suit, there is a direct view into her resentment of beauty standards, machismo pride and the burdens of expectation.

The political situation in Venezuela remains problematic as a result of what is described as the worst economic crisis in the country's history, with basic needs being affected and people suffering at the hands of politicians. So as one of the only Venezuelan performers at the Fringe this year, shouldn't Spisto be engaging with the crisis in some capacity? And here lies her predicament: how can she present a 'carnival of queerness' with the situation back home constantly influencing her creative output?

But as she concludes her show with a dance number, inviting the audience to take part, it's clear that the answer to her dilemma lies in celebration and spiritual revolution. With a mood-board collaged with photos of her idols, heroes and inspirations remaining perched on a table behind, Spisto provides a valuable reminder of the power of creativity when liberation is the goal.

Just the Tonic at The Mash House, until 26 Aug (not 13), 10.10pm, £7 in advance or donations at the venue.

Andrea Spisto: Miss Venezuela

  • 4 stars

Andrea Spisto One Venezuelan beauty queen goes on a radical journey of self-discovery as she prepares for the all-important Miss Universe competition. Andrea Spisto uses a combination of character comedy, extravagant costume, hip-hop influences and high-octane clowning to tear apart ideals of pristine beauty and…

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