Betty Grumble: Love and Anger (Or Sex Clown Saves the World Again!)

★★★
comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Betty Grumble
Published 11 Aug 2017

"Technically if the police arrived now it would be a sex act, but it is actually poetic", Betty Grumble assures us. Therein lies the subtextual conundrum at the heart of Love and Anger; for all the articles of clothing she removes, does she really show us what's "underneath"? 

The Australian comic specialises in "feminist queer avant-garde performance art", as she herself accurately puts it. 'A Daily Mail reader's worst nightmare' might be an alternative tagline. There's vaginal puppetry, musical interludes and a whole lot of makeup. Frequently pausing to read excerpts from Valerie Solanas's SCUM Manifesto, she sets out her plan for the destruction of toxic masculinity and patriarchal oppression. Many hold a similar aim but few could have the courage to express it in such an exposed state.

It's spectacle at its most lurid, and generally makes for anarchic good fun. Beneath the OTT surface, there's a hidden commentary on overt sexuality and excess. Grumble uses her (usually naked) body for a hyper-exaggerated satire of gender roles, sex and physical expression.

Or perhaps it's to be taken at face value. Either way, the whoops and cheers she elicits throughout the show are evidence of the captive power she has over her audience. She's a talented singer, and surely among the most creatively physical acts at the festival. Even if you choose not to intellectualise it, there's still a good time to be had.