Grumble: Sex Clown Saves the World
Get Betty to Grumble
This article is from 2016.
Containing two of the most potent burlesque routines on the Fringe, Betty Grumble's full length show is an exemplum of ferocious, contemporary, sex-positive cabaret's ability to combine sensual entertainment and political commentary. When Grumble tries her hand at striptease, she exaggerates the familiar moves to the point of absurdity, turning her erotic show into a feral challenge. Following this with the appearance of that great construction, The Patriarchy – who proceeds to attack and devour Betty's lover, the planet Earth – Grumble delivers a disorientating double blow, simultaneously celebrating resistance and reinventing lazy representations of female sexuality.
This is burlesque not as stripping, but parody: Grumble the stripper distorts the gaze, twisting it to recognise its bestial nature. Within a variety evening, these routines are stunning, and they set the atmosphere for this hour-long show.
Against this, the structure is disappointing: the narrative arc stumbles and the finale (a singing vagina) could be shocking, with a little more work on its dramaturgy. Grumble clearly has a message – sometimes competing messages that never resolve, which adds to the exciting tension in the show – but the scattershot approach prevents Sex Clown from hammering home the point. Grumble is undeniably a superstar in the making – although she'll never make it onto TV – and with a stronger focus and tighter structure, the Sex Clown could save the planet, deconstruct oppression and move cabaret into new, intelligent areas.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 28 Aug, 8.45pm, £10.50–£12.50 (£9.50–£11.50).