Image: Lizzie Marvelly
Revolution. The word was confronting once, before the term ‘social justice warrior’ became pejorative, when activism demanded more than the signing of an online petition. Thankfully, Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. is here to remind us of the true meaning of the word – loudly, and unapologetically. Radically, you might even say.
Alice Birch’s feminist masterpiece has been brought to life by such illustrious companies as the Royal Shakespeare, but it feels comfortably at home in Silo’s younger, fresher hands. Or rather, nothing feels comfortable at all (other than the squishy, yet pew-like seats) which seems to be the most salient point.
Amanda Tito, Michelle Ny, Sophie Henderson and Fasitua Amosa, led by Virginia Frankovich (in her directorial debut), create a festival of subversion in the dark, sparse Basement Theatre. From dark humour to painful poignancy, Revolt careens wildly between poles, hell-bent on surprising its audience.
It doesn’t disappoint. An early highlight revolves around a pre-sex conversation, not far removed from a pornographic sext, spun out as an exercise in language deconstruction. “I want to make love to you,” he (Fasitua Amosa) says. “Love with you,” she (Sophie Henderson) counters, beginning a seductive linguistic dance that ends in an eventual anti-climax of confusion. But not before the show’s best exchange – “I’m gonna peel your dress off –”, “I’m not a potato. It’s not potato sex.” – can bring the house down.
Other electric moments – a woman sprawled in a shopping trolley, dribbling watermelon down her front as she attempts to enact defiance through submission (“It cannot be an invasion if you want it.”), a chanting, disembodied mouth intoning, “Revolutionise the world – don’t reproduce!”, and a string of audience members reading scripted answers explaining their “feminism” as a mere reflection of knowing or loving a female loved-one among them – make it damn near impossible to leave the performance space with a clear head. Revolt ricocheted around my brain for days after the metaphorical curtain fell.
The parting lesson, if there is one, is that thought is not enough. Somewhere along the way, Birch tells us, amid the cacophony of the climactic sequence, “we stopped nurturing the thought to becoming the action.”
Let that be a lesson to us all.
Silo Theatre’s Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. plays from 15 February -11 March at the Basement Theatre as part of Auckland Fringe Festival. For more details, check out silotheatre.co.nz.