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If Britney Could Get Through 2007 We Can Get Through This review at Camden People’s Theatre, London

Jo Hauge in If Britney Could Get Through 2007 We Can Get Through This at Camden People's Theatre, London Jo Hauge in If Britney Could Get Through 2007 We Can Get Through This at Camden People's Theatre, London

For millennials, Britney Spears’ head shaving in 2007 is a seminal celeb-culture moment. For Jo Hauge, however, it has a more personal significance. A week earlier, Hauge had done the same, firstly with scissors and then a razor.

The performer’s new work If Britney Could Get Through 2007 We Can Get Through This is a punk tribute act to the all-American pop princess fused with a very personal monologue about Hauge’s teenagerdom, mental health and gender identity.

Guitarist Ray Filar and drummer Hollis Robin double as Hauge’s onstage dressers, clothing the performer in outfits including Britney’s bright red jumpsuit made famous in the ‘Oops I Did It Again’ video. This dressing and undressing could be read as commentary on how identity is built and un-built, but its also about having fun, being frivolous and flamboyant.

Mid-way through the performance – staged on the opening night of Sprint, Camden People’s Theatre’s festival of experimental new work – there is a brief interlude where Hauge’s short hair is again completely shaved. The event has more in common with shared ritual than performance. The act is both defiant and cathartic, perhaps more so because it will only be able to happen in exactly this way once.

This idea of public-sharing characterises the show as a whole. There’s the unwanted publicity thrown at famous women, and then there’s the claiming of a stage by Hauge. It’s a messy and emotionally sore show but, as Britney said, “Cause to lose all my senses / That is just so typically me.”

I Want You to Admire Me/But You Shouldn’t review at Camden People’s Theatre, London

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Verdict
Raw-edged and anarchic tribute to Britney Spears exploring gender identity and mental health.
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