Sh!t Theatre really love Dolly Parton. Like, they really love her. Last year, Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit took themselves off to Dollywood, her personal theme park in Tennessee. They got Dolly T-shirts. They got Dolly tattoos. They will always love her. They better had.
On the surface, DollyWould is their Dolly tribute: an act of straightforward hero worship. Dressed as DIY Dollies—woolly wigs and blue-eyed goggles—they celebrate all things Parton. Her music. Her look. Her massive…cultural significance.
This may look like titting about – not least when the duo dress as massive mammaries (a double-D act). It’s actually some really astute cultural criticism: a Theory of Dolly, if you like.
What seems a ragbag of random connections gradually—artfully—slots into shape. Parton’s namesake Dolly the Sheep links to her army of lookalike clones. Tennessee’s other landmark, the so-called Body Farm, a site for studying human decay, rubs (rotting) shoulders with Dolly’s fixed look – her personal brand. They scrutinise naff merchandise and rake over a revealing interview with Dame Barbara Castle.
Andy Warhol tried to turn himself into a machine. He made himself replicable – just like his art. The white Warhol wig. The dark Warhol glasses. He once sent an impersonator to deliver a lecture tour in his place. In their own inimitable shaggy-dog style, Sh!t Theatre make the same claims for Dolly Parton: the surgery, the stardom, the queerness beneath. She’s as constructed as he was. The Andy Warhol of country and western music. Who the hell knew? More important: why is she so easily dismissed?