Review: The Plastic Orgasm (Lot 23)
Updated: Jun 2, 2022
"This is not a show. This is an event." While I am not ordinarily a fan of pieces of theatre that consider themselves above the idea of performance as this statement seems to imply, on this occasion this description is entirely, indisputably, accurate. Julia Croft and Virginia Frankovich's multidisciplinary performance piece incorporates dance, performance art, theatre, and even film, all to a punk soundtrack, dissecting pornography and the sexualisation of the female body. Not merely a one-off performance, this piece is an on-going and evolving project from Croft and Frankovich, who starred in the 2017 incarnation. This year's regeneration is performed by eighteen female performing artists.
From the opening moment, of the performers scrambling around the stage to pull on bizarre pieces of fancy dress and squirting mayonnaise at each other, it is clear that the stage is full of joy among its many emotions. Highlights of the show include a sequence of bouncing on exercise balls as though giving a gymnastics performance, a sketch entitled "Being an Attractive Stimulus" in which a woman shows off her breasts to the friends and family of her new partner to "O Fortuna", and a poem using anaphora about the direction and lack of direction, the changes women want to see in the world and the struggle to achieve them.
In short, the show is expressive feminist chaos lasting an hour, and is clearly the passion project of Croft, Frankovich, and every woman on stage. There are moments of humour, there are moments of tension, and there are moments that leave you baffled. The show has a lot to say and says it all, and though none of the topics are explored in depth they are discussed just enough to give you some food for thought, whilst also being visually vibrant.
It feels almost like an intrusion on a creative process, and one that has developed, potentially, beyond the point of accessibility. That is not to say that the project is unworthy, but merely that the work that has gone into it is perhaps more valuable that what the audience take away from it. In that, an audience member may glean a lot of insightful ideas and conversations all compacted into an usual and chaotic piece of theatre, or they may not connect with these ideas and conversations at all and get lost, which is a perfectly reasonable response to such a far-reaching performance. Where exactly I fall on this spectrum I am not certain, but it has stayed with me and given me something to think about. Three stars.
Whispers from the crowd:
"It was great I loved it, with a cast of 18 this year it showed a full range of perspectives and philosophies"
"I never recommend shows, but I've already texted two of my close friends and I'm even going to help to pay for their tickets. It tackles so many issues in such a compact way. And it was beautiful."