A cheery wave from stranded youngsters
Generic Fringe shows focus on feminist theatre as if it's surprising it's so present, but the cultural pressures that manifest as both cause and symptom in the rise of the populist right in the USA and Europe have encouraged feminist resistance across the arts and social media. Gracefool are a young company who use dance, ensemble speaking, deft characterisation and cheeky wit to satirise the ideals of female behaviour that still oppress women.
The cast have a lively energy and a bold charisma, taking pot-shots at the body beautiful, the silencing of female voices and the fickle world of fashion. There's an uneasy articulation of socialist idealism, fractured by the intrusion of an authoritative voice of caution. Ideas – and characters – jostle for dominance, and familiar oppressions are given short shrift.
Despite creating a series of moments of visual brilliance – such as the tableau of subservient roles for women – the focus can become uneven and the sketch structure prevents the development of the ideas. But as events race towards the finale, and individual scenes collide and conflict with each other, Gracefool begin to build a consistent intensity.
Most tellingly, the final words suggest the show would have been more successful had the cast been naked. This sly moment reveals that Gracefool are aware of the tropes of feminist performance and are ready to subvert them: This Really is Too Much is a sharing of their movement towards finding a distinctive expression.
Underbelly, run ended.