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Power Ballad review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘dynamic and experimental performance piece’

Julia Croft in Power Ballad

Julia Croft’s Power Ballad isn’t about heartbreak or heroes. But it is concerned with something momentous in the air: language. It’s a bold attempt to redress the male access to amplification, to remould vernacular into a linguistic form unviolated by gendered power structures. It’s also frequently funny and filled with an antic spirit.

Bare-chested Croft slides on her back, wearing jeans and a long shaggy wig with a fringe that covers her face. The aesthetic promise of rock rebellion is rendered mute.

Music plays, but the focus is on flesh – Croft uses slithering contortions and hip thrusts to direct a microphone over her sternum and down her back so it appears pendulously between her legs, a limp yet triumphant totem. Later the microphone is a conduit for searching non-verbal sounds, a mixture of thuds and exhalations that culminate in a flinch-inducing gag.

A distortion box lowers Croft’s voice to a boom so that, in a blazer and wig-cap, she becomes a roaring troll lecturing on the difference between facts and feelings. Iterations of ‘feminist’ register a broiling symphony of cynicism and disgust, while the drawled syllables of ‘theatre’ provoke the perky mention of ‘Mel Gibson’. It’s a disruptive, dauntless work.

Verdict
A dynamic and experimental performance piece challenges patriarchal linguistic privilege with comic verve

Production Information

Production
Power Ballad
Venue
Demonstration Room, Summerhall
City
Edinburgh
Starts
August 22, 2017
Ends
August 27, 2017
Authors
Julia Croft
Creator
Julia Croft, Nisha Madhan
Director
Nisha Madhan
Lighting
Calvin Hudson
Cast includes
Julia Croft
Producer
Zanetti Productions
Running time
1hr